- Insurance Claim
- 5 mile run
- spreadsheet for mom and dad
- blog post
Before the Mt. Cook road trip there was another. The destination? Wanaka. Wanaka is commonly described as Queenstown's little brother or sister. It is eerily similar to Queenstown, only smaller and more tranquil. Wanaka, unlike Queenstown, pretty much shuts down after the sun sets. If Queenstown's nightlife is the main strip in Vegas, then Wanaka is Bingo Night at the 1st Presbyterian Recreational Hall. But that's not important, because that is not what me and Ben headed down to Wanaka for. Ben, from Scotland, is another proud employee of Winnie's kitchen. We made the hour long journey to Wanaka from Queenstown looking for the Big Nige Canyon.
Canyoning is one of those warm weather activities that I got really anxious to partake in again when the weather started to change here. I had also heard good things about Wanaka and a trip down there was on my to do list. The canyoning in Wanaka was rumored to be a little bit more intense than the Queenstown area. So we asked the boss to let us off on the same days, threw our bikes in Voodoo and headed down. The Big Nige canyon lived up to it's reputation, and it's hefty price. From the deep canyon website:
"With spectacular views out to the alpine scenery, it is particularly beautiful and hugely enjoyable. It features exciting abseils in strong water flows. The situations are dramatic and the abseils often take you into and behind spectacular waterfalls – visually sensational and very dynamic. Big Nige is a longer day – be prepared for around four hours of continuous descent (and the walk up the hill takes 40 minutes). As we descend we link into Niger Stream with its many jumps and slides – so you get in a lot of everything…
Group sizes are small and personal (max of four in a group). This trip is for people who want a bigger day of hands-on action and enormous amounts of fun….
As with all my New Zealand excursions, we got lucky. We had a small group, just Ben, myself and two others. We also had a great guide, Richard, who was an accomplished canyoner, mountaineer and climber. I'm always taken aback when I meet people like Richard. The
y are absolutely crazy. They take huge risks that could end in unfathomable injuries or even death, and yet they are the most down to earth people you will ever encounter. Luckily, Youtube was onsite to capture a few of my finer moments in the canyon, including the worst summersault in the history of summersaults. And I'm wearing a pink helmet, to add insult to injury.
We made it back to Wanaka in time to get checked into a hostel and hit the bike trails for a couple of hours. We learned just how quickly Wanaka shuts down when went out for dinner around 10:30 and found only two options available. We were the last customers to be served at the thai takeout joint we chose and they weren't happy about our arrival. Later we met an American at the only bar that stayed open past 11. The guy was wearing the exact same STS9 t-shirt that I picked up at ACL last fall and happened to be one of only six t-shirts I brought to New Zealand. Small world. The three of us completed the Rob Roy Glacier walk the next day right outside of Wanaka. I never would have guessed that frozen pieces of snow and ice would be so dazzling to look at. I've been fascinated with the handful of glaciers I've seen here and I still haven't seen the big ones (Fox and Frans Joseph) yet. I enjoyed my time in Wanaka and hope to get back there soon. There's a lot to explore there and apparently they have a really nice ski field as well.
Easter came and went without much fan fare from me. I opened on Easter Sunday and I think I worked a solid 10 or 11 hours that day. I tried not to think about the crawfish boils my family and friends were indulging in. But I did get a fabulous easter egg from my fabulous roommate Melissa.
- Let's go back to the Easter weekend for a second to have a look at what I think is a strange regulation in New Zealand. Good Friday and Easter MONDAY are public holidays, or days in lieu, in New Zealand. This means they are simliar to federal holidays in the states: kids are out of school, government offices are closed and on and on. Here's the interesting part: the New Zealand goverment says that if you are open on a public holiday, you have to pay your employees time and a half on that day. This creates a tricky situation for the food service industry. They respond by imposing a 20% surcharge on their customers. So if on Good Friday you take your kids to church and then want to go have some pizza at Winnie's afterwards, you'll pay 20% more than if you did the same thing on Holy Thursday. The restaraunts are up in arms about having to pay their people time and a half. Most of them are trying to get through those days on skeleton crews to keep costs down. The customers are up in arms about the surcharges all over town. It's more money for me, so I'm happy about it, but every public holiday stirs up this huge debate and argument about that regulation.
- A fellow Baton Rougean has arrived in the Queenstown area. Emily took a job in close-by Arrowtown and just happened to be travelling with lots of grits which she was willing to share with me. I enjoyed a delicious breakfast of grits and eggs the other day. Still haven't figured out how to describe them.....
- If I hear "Walking in Memphis" by Marc Cohn one more time, I'm going to cut my ears off with the pizza knife.