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These are the days

A month in the life of Wanaka


These are the days where I arrived for 3 and stayed for 30. The song is almost the opposite of the sunny, fun, optimism of the last month, but also it reminds me of the UK which in other news, is where I will be living again from April (more on that later.)

So I had been in Wanaka a week in my last entry. I had got to know a few people, enjoyed the amazing views of the lake and mountains and found myself a wwoofing position so I could stay in town and pay a lot less money for the privilege.


My wwoofing host was Sam, a guy who owned a removals company and had just returned from a few months in Hong Kong so needed help with getting his veggie garden back up to scratch. How to describe Sam...he is different thats for sure. Lets just say at our first meeting he informed me that money was soon going to be worthless as all the economies were going to crash again very soon (i.e. by the New Year - not looking so good now) and that Prince Phillip was involved in a paedophile ring. Now I don't know enough about either of these topics to be sure of the reality but it gives you a flavour of some of our conversations. I would go for a pessimistic conspiracy theorist with knowledge of the econom, but also a nice guy and a good cook. On the wwoofing side, Sam was very generous. I was expected to do 3 hours of work a day for my food and accommodation. Most of this was gardening, but on a couple of days when he couldn't get any men to help him, I also assisted with the moving. Generally this meant work in the morning and then wandering along the lake front into town in the afternoon.

Luckily I had a few things to keep me busy. I had an interview for the Cambridge Mathematics Education Project to become a resource developer for A-level maths. This meant I spent quite a lot of time preparing and organising a Skype interview (instead of the 12.15 interview in Cambridge they wanted despite the fact my letter specifically stated I was in NZ!) Also I had made a few friends, Steve is a Canadian guy who spends his summers in Wanaka - he lives at the backpackers I had been staying at and so was often there for a chat when I went in to arrange using their internet for my interview. Also he introduced me to Jan, an English guy who had also spent a lot of his time in Wanaka, and quite conveniently (when you want to drink nice beer by the lake) works at a liquor store.


Through Jan, I got to meet a really fun group of people and whilst I was wwoofing got to spend lots of time down by the lake with them, at a dinner that turned into a party (apparently if there is 6 of you it is a party), and my favourite - a bus party. Sam (different to above) has a bus he is converting into a place to live. We all headed out to his campground to have much food and beer, although it was mostly outside the bus since the weather continued to be pretty awesome.

Having not heard back from the interview I had vaguely made some plans that involved being in NZ for longer than the I originally thought. Then suddenly a response to my query meant that it appeared I had got the job after all, they just had neglected to tell me that part! With plans quickly changing and lack of enthusiasm for any more gardening, I decided to finish wwoofing and head back to Hollys backpackers. Despite baking some of my awesome shortbread and sharing it with the owners there was going to be no room over the Christmas period as they were all fully booked. This is how I managed to spend my last week or so rent free by staying with Jan, Ingela and Kajsa.

Now I was no longer wwoofing there was lots of time for fun. I did some gorge jumping, a road trip to Queenstown, buying Christmas presents for an awesome game, more swimming, lots of eating, Christmas day climbing and celebrating Christmas twice. Ingela and Kajsa are Swedish, so they celebrate on the 24th. This meant we had a Christmas breakfast together and they opened their presents, before we did lots of shopping for the next day. On the 25th after climbing we produced so much food. Everyone was in charge of a dish and we had a great meal before descending in to present stealing (a game), beer pong and possibly a tequila shot or two...


This meant that Boxing Day was spent as it should be - watching lots of bad films, and a quick swim in the lake. In the mean time, my job had been sorted and confirmed and I will be starting work in Cambridge at the beginning of April when I return from my trip, earlier than planned, but late enough to get my snowboarding course in. Despite rearranging my flights so I can spend an extra few weeks in NZ I realised it was probably time to leave Wanaka. In my last couple of days I managed to squeeze in the stuff I still hadn't done, so this meant a hike to the top of Roy's Peak - I think I lost some fitness over Christmas - it was hard work, and a skydive which was freaking amazing! You ring up, go along, and suddenly you are in the tiny plane strapped to a stranger and there's not a lot you can do to stop it. It was as the plane door opened I decided this wasn't a good idea, but suddenly you are sitting on the edge with your legs dangling out the plane and you realise it is going to happen, so you better just do what your instructor tells you. Then your stomach just disappears as you drop initially and then it's incredible. The scenery is amazing around Wanaka, in the plane on the way up you could see Mount Aspiring and Mount Cook, which is the highest mountain in NZ and not that close to where we were. As you are falling you take in the mountains, Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, which is pretty special. You freefall for 45 seconds, but it feels much longer and my once the parachute had opened my instructor let me take charge of the controls and send us left and right and round round before taking over for the landing. If you ever need an adrenaline boost, then this is the answer.


Last night was my final evening and so me Jan and Steve spent a final hour or two on the beach with some beers before going out for dinner. I left a gift of nice coffee for the house to say thanks for letting me stay as I have not seen a group of people more desperate for coffee since Mum circa 2005 in Korea. Ingela actually hugged the coffee when she saw it :)

So now I am in Dunedin and tomorrow will be heading to Oamaru to meet back up with Maddy and Kat for New Year and hopefully another epic adventure or two.

Posted by SpannaB 00:46 Archived in New Zealand Tagged wanaka

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Annuver brill blog Spanna: fantasmabrilliant. Sam the wwoofer sounds my sort of guy. Always thought Prince Phillip was a bit dodgy ( did you hear the rumour about him and Susan George ?? ). Congrats again on your "professorial" appointment in the flat lands of East Anglia. X. Al

by Al

Yes Anna...living the life yet also securing an awesome job. Well done you!

by Christine Chaboyer

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