One stop to paradise


  • Franz Josef – Lake Matheson
  • Lake Matheson – Thunder Creek Falls
  • Thunder Creek Falls – Lake Hawea
  • Lake Hawea – Wanaka

This day was going to be made or broken by the weather for a few reasons: 1) it would be beautiful and we’d have left Franz Josef, missing the helicopter trip again; 2) the scenic views during the stop-offs would be ruined by clouds and 3) we could not swim in the lakes.

Well, from the word go New Zealand delivered with both its weather and scenery. First up was the “perfect reflection” lake of Lake Matheson. Although it was early in the morning and the clouds still low over the mountains, the reflections sure were perfect:

As had become daily routine, we grabbed coffee from the visitor centre cafe and hopped back on-board before the next stop: Thunder Creek Falls. Draining glacial water, these falls were stunning, falling 46m from the mountains above.

This stop was short as our lunch stop wasn’t too much further on, but before that I signed myself up for Queenstown Shotover Canyon Swim AND skydive! Not sure what I was thinking but that will be reported back in Queenstown’s post.

After lunch, we lost all phone signal and wifi for a good few hours and drove through the most unbelievable fjiord-lands and lakes. Our entire journey looked something from a post-card with us and the bus almost green-screened on.

We did eventually stop at Lake Hawea, again a view like nothing I have ever experienced or seen in my entire life.

All the scenic stops were short, but well worth it, and we did make it in to the town of Wanaka in the end. After checking in to our family room (Em, Monique, Puck, Hattie and me), and sweating profusely considering the recent cold and wet weather, Emily and I stripped off in to bikinis and shorts and headed straight to Lake Wanaka for a swim and the infamous “that tree” shot.

We didn’t initially know which way to head and wondered aimlessly in search of a single tree! After walking past many an Asian photoshoot, a newly wed couple and some ducks, we did get our shot.

The water was not as icy cold as we had expected and the surroundings were so beautifully peaceful. I felt immediately like I had stepped in to paradise and truly on holiday. We then headed back to the town to join up with the others from the bus on the main beach, swimming out to the jetty and sunbathing on the grass. All together, it was a relaxing afternoon that we needed, the swim and hot weather we had been after, and a truly wonderful few hours.

Following food, showers and compulsory dolling-up, Emily and I didn’t fancy staying in the room all night. It was an easy night as we were headed to Queenstown the following day, but still we went to the hostel bar first and then on to a local Irish pub, where they had some live music on. We didn’t stay too long and returned back around 10.30pm, for yet another hour of mad Puck hyperness. I’m really going to miss these girls post-Queenstown.

The next morning we packed up and on to the coach swiftly, grabbed our daily coffee, and set off for Wanaka’s ‘Puzzling World’ – a museum of illusions, mazes and rooms that really mess with your head!

The sloping room really made you feel drunk and it was just as well some of the boys, who were hungover, stayed asleep on the bus! After the necessary photos, we attempted the crazy maze. Although unlikely to compare to Tulley’s, it was a really difficult, double-storey maze. Hattie and I found Nick in there, who had been wondering for the last 45 minutes looking for the exit!

Puzzling world provided a morning of great entertainment, again allowing us to regress in age for the day, something that is becoming customary to my time in New Zealand now.

Next up was a stop at Mrs Jones’ fruit store. This is a giant fresh fruit shop that also allow you to add fruit to ice cream and make all kinds of scrumptious, fabulously wild ice cream concoctions. I went for ‘Hokey Pokey’ ice cream mixed with wild berries. Hokey Pokey is vanilla, honeycomb and golden syrup mixed together and delicious. The final ice cream was mahoooosive and also delicious.

And that was the end to Wanaka. The bus was then headed to Queenstown where 6 days of adventure was about to begin for me!

And so, 23 days in to ‘life from a bag’ and so far, New Zealand is stunning and I am in paradise.

Gabby x


2 thoughts on “One stop to paradise

  1. Hi Gabby! Been absolutely loving your posts in the past (nearly) four weeks. You seem to have packed in so much already. Some great photos – especially the one of your ‘drinking’ the water fall! I am sure you have many more thrills and adventures ahead and you have clearly made some super friends.
    I can understand your Dad remonstrating about the alcohol …………… but, then he forgets you have always been a party animal!
    Many many congratulations on your Master’s result – absolutely fantastic – and the dissertation mark is amazing. I am very touched to be invited to your graduation in January and will certainly be a very proud godmother.
    Look after yourself and carry on having fun, Niki xxxxxx


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