8th of July was our drive to Wanaka. We had planned to leave at 10am and drive slower to avoid the black ice, but as the overnight temp was going to be around 2 degrees and the prediction was for a sunny day, we decided to get on the road a little earlier. As such we arrived in Wanaka at 12:30pm. It was the first day of the NZ school holidays and so the small town was infested with pesky tourists pushing up all the prices ( eg. petrol $2.25 a litre). Every parking space was taken, requiring us to park out a bit and hike down to the centre of town. Given the hike to Franz Josef the day earlier, this was something we were trying to avoid (old age catching up with me).
We discovered earlier in our trip that NZ has an obsession with the meat pie, and every bakery claims to have the best ones. Each year there is the New Zealand Supreme Pie competition and shops advertise how well they have done in the various categories eg. 2nd for the pepper steak or lamb curry. They have a particular love of the mince and cheese pie. I’d thought that most pies were made of mince....but no, NZ pies seem to have chunks of meat unless otherwise stated (hence the mince and cheese category). In the main Street of Wanaka there is a bakery that sells at least 8 types of pie. On the front window they display the placing each pie variety came in the 2018 competition. They seemed proud that 5 of the varieties came 10th and the highest the others achieved was about 4th, and one of those was vegetarian (not a real pie). Now I ask you, would you settle for a pie that came 10th.....no, you’d want the pie that came 1st?
Apart from a little shopping all we did in Wanaka was to wait until sunset and take photos of the old Wanaka tree. This is an old willow tree stands alone in Lake Wanaka, just off shore. As the story goes, in the early 1900s the tree started its life as a fence post in that very spot – just a branch chopped off a large willow plugged in the ground...and not wanting to be a fence post it started to sprout and grow into the tree. For some reason people want to photograph it. It is well positioned in that it sits in the water with snow capped mountains and the sun setting in the background (the reason most photographers come at sunset to take photographs). I hadn’t heard of the tree before and so googled it. Apparently Instagram has over 43,000 photographs of this tree with photos also published in overseas newspapers and magazines. There is nothing that remarkable about it so I suppose its famous for being famous. Ali wanted to be there to take his photos just as the sun was setting. There were people lined up, both amateur and professional photographers huddled on the waters edge waiting for the right amount of light to get that perfect shot. It was freezing, and not that exciting. I just took a selfie of the tree and me on my iPhone.