Hiking and Jetboating in Queenstown

It was with mixed emotions that the Wanaka Crew began to disperse Thursday morning, with all of us checked out of our gorgeous temporary home on Friday.  What an incredible journey blogging has been for all of us!  Who knew that when we all published our first posts, for me back  in June of 2012, we would meet and make such great friends.  The benefits to blogging are many and without a doubt, the best part is the worldwide connections that are made.

This image nipped from Alys’ FB page: Boomdee, Alys, Danella (daughter of Pauline), Pauline, Steve (partner of Joanna), me, Joanna (daughter of Pauline), and Mike (Alys’ husband).

After one last lunch with Pauline, Danella, Boomdee, and Siddy, with this view as the backdrop, I was dropped at my Queenstown Hotel.  It was time to start my solo adventure.

Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world, and with just one and a half days to spend there, I had many choices.  Ultimately, I decided to hike Queenstown Hill and, on the advice of Danella, to take a jet boat ride on Lake Wakatipu.

After walking by this gorgeous tree, I began my morning with the now customary Flat White.  I was thrilled to see this Giant Sequoia since I’ve not seen them in California yet.

They Call it a “Hill”

Queenstown Hill is a popular hike for locals and visitors alike despite the moderate to difficult rating.  While only 3k from the trail head and back, it was another 3k on foot to get to the trailhead.  It’s 500m to the summit, straight up hill all the way.  Click on each image in the gallery to get an idea of the steep climb, both on the street and the trail.

Soon enough I entered a magical area of stacked rocks.  I was capitavated and spent a good 15 minutes in peace and quiet, and then added my own rock.  The photography is poor as it was quite dark and I just didn’t capture the stacks well.

I knew that I was near the summit when I arrived at the Basket of Dreams.  Sculptor Caroline Robinson created this piece in 2000 for the Queenstown Millenium project which has  transformed the existing walk into a heritage and art trail.  The ‘Basket’ is near the top of the hill and “is built to lie inside of, eat your sandwich, and imagine. It provides a meeting place, a resting place, a dreaming spaceIts a place to be with others and with the magic of the Wakatipu landscape”.

I began what I thought were the final steps (the basket is right in the middle of this next image).  It is so tiny as seen here.  Then I turned around and saw that I had several more steps to go (see the second image).  Can you see the people on the summit?

Finally! I arrived on the summit and the view is indescribable, at least for me.  I mean, how many more times can a person say “incredible, gorgeous, stunning”?

I sat in complete contentment for a long while.  A woman came up and asked if she could take my photo as I looked so quiet and peaceful.  What a thoughtful gesture as I would not have been able to manage a selfie.

It was difficult to leave this place.  Thankfully, a celebratory beverage and a jetboat ride awaited me.  I enjoyed my Monteith’s Black as I looked back up to the summit.  Can you see it, peaking through the trees?

And then I looked towards the lake.

It was a specatacular day for a jetboat ride!

What a thrill, and even though 60 minutes, not long enough!  My time in New Zealand came to an end all too quickly, despite being there almost 2 weeks.   What a remarkable country!

Now though, it was almost time to get on that plane, and fly to Melbourne.

Kayaking Lake Wanaka

On Monday, four members of the Wanaka Crew spent a couple hours kayaking on Lake Wanaka.  What a blast!  Photo credits go to Alys, Danella, and Joanna as I left my camera and phone on shore.  Information about Lake Wanaka was taken from various online sources.

Lake Wanaka covers an area of 192 km2 (74 sq mi) and is New Zealand’s fourth largest lake.  It is estimated to be more than 300 m (980 ft) deep.  The clarity of the water is remarkable, especially to one who is used to the New River and Claytor Lake, which are full of organic matter.  The name Wanaka is Maori and means ‘The place of Anaka’, a local tribal chief.

At its greatest extent, which is roughly along a north-south axis, the lake is 42 k / 26 miles long. Its widest point, at the southern end, is 10 k / 6 miles.  The lake’s western shore is lined with high peaks rising to over 2000 metres / 6500 ft above sea level.

Wanaka lies in a u-shaped valley formed by glacial erosion during the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago. It is fed by the Matukituki and Makarora Rivers, and is the source of the Clutha River. Nearby Lake Hawea lies in a parallel valley carved by a neighbouring glacier.

We rented the kayaks from Paddle Wanaka, and while they did not provide much instruction or information (thank goodness I am not a novice!), they did encourage us to paddle out to Ruby Island.

Ruby Island – photo credit: Me!

We put in along the beach of Wanaka’s town center and paddled past an area of construction.  This tourist town is rapidly growing as evidenced by several new areas of development.

It took us about an hour to paddle out to the island.  Ruby Island has a boat jetty, a picnic table, and even a toilet (the word restroom is infrequently used here).  Our happy group posed in front of the Ruby Island sign.


Joanna took this great shot looking back out across the lake to our put in.

Other than a slight sunburn, it was a glorious day on the lake!

Morning Walk on Lake Wanaka

Waking up at 6am on vacation means that I am back on Virginia time, and that is a good thing in terms of making the most of the day.  I slipped out of the house at 7:15 and took the 15 minute stroll to Lake Wanaka.

It was such a peaceful morning with just a few runners, walkers, and photographers out and about.

And a few ducks …

It was a slightly overcast morning, but slowly the sun began to peak through the clouds.

I could see the town off in the distance, and knowing that we’d be visiting later in the day, I turned around for home.

After putting my feet in the water, of course.  Look at that clear water!

5 Person Trike Ride Around Otago Harbour

Pauline arranged for the most fun outing: a 5 person trike ride around Dunedin and Otago Harbour!  This bike chick loved it, as did everyone else.  What a blast!

We met our guide Andrew, owner of Experience Dunedin at The Octagon in the Central Business District of Dunedin, and soon we were off.

Andrew obligingly hit the gas and we found ourselves hooting out loud with excitment!

The roads were curvy and changed elevation frequently, and I was reminded of riding back home in southwest Virginia.  Well, except for the “wrong side” of the road thing.


The views of the harbour were incredible and these photos do not do them justice.

Alys took some great photos with her selfie stick, so please visit her blog to see more!

Thank you, Pauline, for arranging for this fun, fun outing, and to Alys for treating us!

A Lovely Distraction

Good Morning, or Evening, as the case may be! Before I prepare to head off for a day on the motorcycle, I wanted to share this post from my dear friend Karen, over at The Unassuming Hiker.  Karen has started a Hiking Club for Women, and she planned a Saturday hike for those who can’t make it during the week.  We spent a wonderful day at Carvins Cove.  Check out her post for more info!

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The Unassuming Hiker

A week from now it will be over, but I know it is going to be an amazing weekend watching my only child get married.  Today, I surrounded myself with good friends for a much needed distraction and to help me celebrate the week before the big day.

It started with a hike (surprise, surprise) to a place I had not been before, Carvin’s Cove.


Hiking with the wedding photographer guaranteed a couple of good pictures!


We got an early start and the weather was perfect.  Did not see any bears even though there had been a 500 pound black bear in the parking lot last weekend.  A bear that was not afraid of people.  As we arrived we were told that we had just missed seeing the bear by about 30 minutes.  We were fascinated by this until we heard the same story upon our return and realized they…

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Good Friends and Glass

My good friends, Tim and Joe (who is probably also your good friend) are helping me to find some new glass.


In my previous post, I commented that I needed some more zoom, and those who know Joe will not be surprised to learn that he generously took time out of his busy life to do some research for me.  Knowing that the campaign is offering me precious few free moments, I’m so grateful to Joe!


Like Joe, my long time dear friend Tim, has started using a mirrorless camera, and he offered to let me play around with one of his Canon lenses.  How cool is that?  What an incredible guy!


I’ll be participating in a couple campaign events this weekend and I look forward to continuing to try out this new lens.

How fortunate am I to have such great friends?

Nags Head, NC

This woman is on vacation!  Woop Woop!!


The 420 mile ride to Nags Head, NC included

*wonderful views and roads,

*a downpour that thankfully lasted only 15 minutes,

* riding in the dark with my way illuminated by lightning (which also illuminated the “Bear Crossing” signs –  I SO want to see a bear!),

and as always, a cold beer at the end of the ride.

I wish I was better able to express myself with words so that you would understand what it felt like to ride across the Intracoastal Waterway in the dark, to smell the water, and to see the lights in the distance, but not see the water.  To see the huge orange moon and not be able to stop and capture it with my camera.  To know that somehow I had to share the glory of that ride in words instead of photographs.

You’ll just have to trust me.