Hello there!

After leaving rainy Franz Joseph, I continued south along the west coast all the way to Haast, where the road turned inland toward Wanaka.  I took several opportunities to stop and gawk at and wander along the Tasman Sea since I don’t think I’ll be seeing it properly again until I get to Australia.

Although the road was extremely twisty and turny and uppy and downy, I was able to take this shot through the windshield along a rare section of straightaway to show the lush forest coming almost right up to the road on either side and to show the size and scope of a major State Highway-speed limit 100km-one lane each direction.

The further south I drove, the more sun I gained and by the time I got to Knights Point Lookout, the sky sun was full out and the sky was full blue.  I pulled into the lookout area to have a looksee and a wee walkabout on the beach and while there, learned almost the entire West Coast of the South Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Area.  Who knew? The light greenish/tan area on the map below encompasses this area and while the text is a bit difficult to read, it basically says the 2.6 million hectares (10% of New Zealand’s land mass) is of such natural value and significance to the world at large, it is worth protecting for all humankind. 

“It is a natural treasure of world significance.”

It doesn’t look like my video widget wants to work for the video I took while down on the beach, so hopefully the link will be live, so watching will be easy, if not, you’ll need to copy and paste like before.

It’s another really lovely stretch of remote and undeveloped beach and while I was down there I had the joy of keeping  company with a small pod of Hector’s Dolphin.  They are the only dolphin endemic to New Zealand and are the “smallest and rarest marine dolphin in the world.”  I was the only one on the beach and they hung out immediately off shore for quite some time, though photos and video footage didn’t really turn out, so don’t look for them, 🙂 but I’ve found a photo on the interweb so you can see what they look like…kind of like a small, gray Orca.

https://youtube.com/shorts/_qi5zDfv-Ro

After saying a fond farewell to the Tasman, I headed inland to Wanaka, a town in the Southern Alps and my destination for the next three nights AND where I booked an AirBnB to take a little break from the mini-campervan.  By the way, I’ve decided I love the camper for up to 4-5 nights in a row and then I need a several night break, so that’s my new routine for the duration.

Wow.  Wanaka.  What a delight.  It’s a small town on the southern shore of Lake Wanaka and is a year round go to spot for Kiwis and Internationals alike.  There is almost guaranteed sun in the summer and guaranteed snow in the winter for skiing and snowboarding.

Below you’ll see photos of the famous Wanaka Tree.  I took the one on the left and lifted the one on the right from the world wide web so you can see it and the mountains in their winter garb.  This is easily the most photographed tree in NZ and started its life as a fencepost made from a Willow tree.

I took the banner photo while hiking up the left coast of the lake on past this famous tree.  If you look closely, you can see the path winding through the bush on the left. 

Below are a couple of shots from that walk.

It gets so dry in the summer, they have these rain barrels quite frequently along the trail inviting walkers to grab a bucket and water the nearby native plants.  I can tell you the sun was STRONG while I was there.  It is an amazingly intense sun here in NZ, no doubt, while being lovely and cool in the shade.

If you look closely, you can see some remnants of snow up on the mountains in the background.

I had planned to do a fair bit of hiking, but all the hikes are exposed (full sun) around Wanaka and the sun was too strong for me and as it turns out many locals as well, so I enjoyed my delightful AirBnB and its community of lovely people and animals along with a visit to the Lavender Farm which was in full bloom and some kind of gorgeous.  Take a look.

Wow is right!  They had acres and acres of lavender with beautiful flower gardens and honeybees.  I enjoyed my visit very much.

And now I’d like to tell you about my AirBnB experience because it was a Gift with a capital G. The space was fantastic and overflowing with Goodness. It holds a community of wise women and loving, shade seeking animals.  Let’s begin with the animals. They often came in through the open door to find respite from the heat of the sun. 

This is Mickey, a most sweet natured dog who is 14 years old and completely deaf.  Look at that face!  He loves lots of walks and swims in the lake.

And next we have Tarantino, the biggest cat I’ve ever seen other than a Maine Coon.  Tarantino liked to come in to drink water from the tap and to cool off.  His mother, Tallulah, came and went as well, but I don’t seem to have a photo of her.

While these four legged friends definitely added richness to my stay, it was the women who feel like long lost friends who really filled my cup to overflowing.  

Tanette is the creator of the little community of homes, The Little Elephant Urban Retreat (AirBnB) being one. She lives in another one which is a converted former Aviary, and rents the other two on a long term basis to hand picked gals.  The homes are all clustered together at the top of a little drive and are surrounded by gardens, fruit trees, and outdoor living spaces, which she planted/created as well. It is a wonderful community oasis and upon arrival, I immediately felt connected and at home.

Peyton is the first person I met as she was just finishing cleaning and we hit it off as if we had known each other for lifetimes.  Soon after, I met Tanette and it was the same, so much so, we ended up enjoying lots of time together swimming in the lake, drinking coffee, and discussing  the subjects near and dear to both our hearts.  Among her many qualifications, she is also a Massage Therapist and I was able to enjoy one of her wonderful massages without ever having to leave the Little Elephant Urban Retreat.

Additionally, I was honored by an invitation to dinner at her home with Peyton and Hope, Peyton’s mother, and all I can say is it felt like the coming together of Beings who have known each other well throughout the Ages. 

When we all came together as a foursome, all we could do was laugh and hug and laugh some more for who knows how long.  It felt really good to be welcomed into their long standing friendships and I can’t remember a more Joy Full experience.  

Take a look at these lovely wise women.

First up is Tanette, slicing the sourdough after preparing the most wonderful salad you see on the table.  It was a delicious potluck dinner in regards to both the food and company.

The next photo shows Tanette in the middle with Hope on the left and Peyton on the right.  I feel sure our paths will cross again in some form or fashion.  Tanette and I both have an eye on India and we were already laughing about the possibility of our meeting up there next winter.

My cup runneth over ladies and gents.  A Joy Full Path, indeed.

I’m in Queenstown now and the Goodness continues, so stay tuned.

 

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Comments:

  • Heather

    January 20, 2023

    I believe that encounters like this is why you travel! Wonderful……

    reply...
    • Margie

      January 20, 2023

      Well spotted, Heather ✨🌀💖
      I never know when, where, how, or if it’s going to happen and I’m always so grateful when it does. Something very special happens when two or more are gathered, which reminds me…I’m so looking forward to seeing you in May 🥰

      reply...
  • Sherie

    January 20, 2023

    Love the ABB!

    reply...
    • Margie

      January 20, 2023

      Me too! I just thought to post the link to it on FB just in case anyone wants to see the photos and read about it.

      reply...
  • Cassie

    January 21, 2023

    What a wonderful experience! Love the lavender field pics,

    reply...
  • Tena

    January 28, 2023

    Reading your posts and seeing the gorgeous pictures you share with us fills my heart up. I feel happy, and nourished. Thank you Margie! Those women are so beautiful and look like they are fully in their present. And the dog and the cat – wow. They are both very powerful yet serene beings.

    reply...

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