After three years we are on our way to New Zealand South Island, this time to run Motatapu cross country marathon in Wanaka. It is also our first time we are back in Christchurch after the devastating earthquake in 2011.
Our first night accommodation is in an old jailhouse renovated to a hostel. Before checking in we fill in census forms, since today everybody in the country has to do it --- it is the Census Day. Luckily for us foreigners, it is a very simple --- we need to do only one out of four pages that the locals have to fill in.
As usual, it is not lunch time anymore and not yet dinner time either, but we are hungry. Luckily, the lovely hostess at the Criterion Hotel warms us some mushroom-bacon soup and serves it with homemade bread and delicious spreads.
At 4pm. we are in a familiar B&B in Wanaka. We need to do some carbo loading, so our hostess books us a place on the service counter in Francesca's, the town's best (and only) pasta restaurant, which is also very popular.
The counter is occupied when we get there, so we have quick beers in the neighboring The Speight's Ale House.
This is the Motatapu race day. We wake up early to catch the bus from
town to the start line. The bus never comes and Caroline, our BnB hostess, takes us there. It turns out that the bus from Queenstown is late (because the driver slept in) and the whole race is delayed for 45 minutes.
The transportation back to Wanaka is equally mismanaged as the morning transportation. Despite several inquiries, we are told wrong departure times and places, and we miss the bus we booked.
Some others try to desperately find better ways to get back to Wanaka.
After a quick shower we rush to the restaurant Cow for the dinner. We order Monteith's ale and green salad to start with, and then share Her Majesty's Pizza and a bottle of local (Central Otago) Drumsara Pinot Noir 2010.
On our last night in Wanaka we have another nice dining experience at White House, again recommended by the hostesses of our B&B. This is a place run by a Greek guy who does not look like a chef or restaurant owner but a gardener. There are no printed menus but the night's food options are written on chalkboards, which are shuffled between tables.
To finish the night we visit Francesca's one more time for a couple of beers. We meet Laura again, and welcome her and her husband to stay in our place in Singapore when they continue their world tour to South-East Asia.
We start driving back to Wanaka in hope of having a late lunch before heading to the West Coast. The road has been graded. Soon we start hearing some strange sound underneath the car. Still we go on for a kilometer or two. Then we stop to check the source ...
The bumpy road has taken its toll.
We have a flat. Not only a flat but a totally ruined front tire.
We change to a miniature spare tire and limp back to the town. Then at the i-site we call to three numbers to find out from where to get a new tire.
The tire change itself is a blast and costs us only NZ$117. Then we are on the road again. Before heading to the west coast we get some burgers to go from Boa Boa, again recommended by our B&B host to be the best burger place in town.
By the road there was a sign that says "Jesus is coming, ready or not." Little do they know that for us Singlish speakers the joke does not work since it translates to "Jesus is coming, are you ready?" Boring.
Our guide for the winery tour is CJ, a laid-back Kiwi guy in camouflage shorts and flip-flops. Not an attire you would expect in a wine tasting tour in the old world.
His webpage: http://www.nelsontoursandtravel.co.nz/about-us/
A former paintball instructor, that explains :)
This is Milcrest. CJ has to get the dog in the same picture with us.
We don't have any pictures of Brightwater, the second winery we visit, but their wines are the best of this tour and the long conversation with the winemaker himself is very educational and entertaining.
We walk to town for dinner. It is a bit hard to find a an interesting place to eat; most places smell deep fried and offer only pizza, pasta, and burgers (not to say that they are necessarily bad, but admittedly rather unimaginative)
Betty explains us the nearby dinner options, which form quite an extensive list. We choose Fox & Ferret Gastro Pub. It is Friday night and the place is packed with after-the-work partying people. The dining area upstairs has a table for us. For mains we choose venison and lamb on stone grill.