We spent Friday night at the aptly named Makarora Visitors Center. Mom has had this thing about reserving self-contained units with kitchens (regardless of whether or not we intend to cook for ourselves). We weren’t up to the full drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown (or even Wanaka), so opted for an overnight in Makarora, which just about splits the distance between Queenstown and Wanaka. Truthfully, this place is in the middle of frickin nowhere. Driving in, my Dad was skeptical as we drove for a period of time without seeing power poles, buildings or livestock of any kind, causing us to wonder what kind of civilized accommodations we could possibly find as we approached Makarora. When we arrived, we were delighted to find a small establishment that was shop/fuel/lodge/pub/karaoke bar/restaurant all in one, with super-friendly staff and a lively clientele.
We joined the other patrons for the sweetest happy hour ever (7:30-830 p.m. on Friday!?) and had some great grub and cheap handles, but ducked out before the karaoke got cranking and things got too wild. The lodge was a very happy, social place and people were gathered raucously in groups chugging pints, as well as quietly planning itineraries out of guidebooks with equal success. Our cabin was a hysterical self-contained A-frame which I loved and hope to replicate someday for myself (but would have to include a loft and a wood-burning stove, obviously)… the icing on the cake was the skeleton key that we got for the place. Amazing. Highly recommended stop–really really great place.
We left misty Makarora this morning and headed to Queenstown, the first place I have felt in New Zealand that really spoke to me. The drive in and out of Queenstown along Lake Wakatipu has been my favorite part of the drive so far, with absolutely tremendous vistas of both the Remarkables and the northern Eyres over the churning cerulean lake. Despite being one of the busier places we have stopped, I really enjoyed the energy of the city and its natural backdrop. We also had an awesome lunch at VUDU with the best latte I’ve had yet in New Zealand. Really super stuff.
Now we’re en route to Te Anau, bound to be in town by about 5:30 tonight, in hopes of getting dinner at an Italiano Restauranto recommended to us by the Queenstown I-Site as “the best pasta in the world”. Who knew? Coming up to Parawa now, lots of sheep, which I haven’t grown tired of yet. It is seeming more and more like if I come back to New Zealand, I need to make my base in the Fjordlands.
Long Live the Dream,