I’m trying not to talk. Actually I’m really trying hard not to open my mouth at all. Bees can smell the carbon dioxide in my breath and it can irritate them enough for a closer inspection…by more than one. Here’s me with Ken Ross, a man who wears a number of hats, one of which is that of a Bee-keeper.
Ken’s ensures that I’m all kitted up with full elasticised gloves, flattering white overalls to suit the fuller figure and a large helmet with an expansive netting arrangement. The helmet needs adjusting every now and then.
Ken’s also a Secondary Schoolteacher and I’m trying to listen hard to the wealth of ‘Bee’ information he imparts. He might ask me to hand in an essay by the end of the week. His Italian honey bees have been chosen for their passivity and ability to produce and store honey. There’s no class system here folks.
Every bee has a job to do and the team spirit thrives. The ‘cleaners’ evict troublesome wasps and dispose of stunted bees who haven’t formed properly or died. The drones mate in flight with the Queen and unfortunately lose ‘vital parts’ in the process. The workers keep up a frantic pace. As for the Queen, if she doesn’t perform, like Queens of old in human society, she is executed and replaced. Ken, please don’t ask me to hold that tray!
Ken is the owner of the lovely rustic cottage we’re staying in at the moment and the other night he took us down to a private glow worm grotto on the track behind us. Apart from the occasional grunt of a stag nearby, all was silent and shrouded with inky darkness. Suddenly fairy-like pins of light appeared all around us. We’ve received a jar of Ken’s precious honey, to remind us of golden moments like these.
You’d never guess that Holly Homestead in Franz Josef, has been operating as a boutique B & B for a number of years. There’s no hint of any previous guest’s footprint. That’s impressive, but not surprising. Owner/operators like Bernie and Gerard Oudemans, tend to set a much higher standard of care than the corporate owned properties.
Our premium suite was more like a spacious one-bedroomed apartment…
The actual bedroom was very large and I know it’s no big deal, but I noticed the magazines in the bedside cabinet were very current. The super-king bed is definitely a big deal to me.
When I think of a place called ‘home’ I don’t imagine chrome and grey interiors. I think of waxed wood polished to a shine and good old fashioned runner carpets on stairs. I know I should be making good use of the weather in Franz Josef but that claw-foot bath is beckoning and I’d love a long soak:
I just want to lay back in the bath and gaze at the gold-plated tap fittings and gleaming surfaces on show. When I asked Bernie how long it took her to service each room to this standard. She just smiled and said “a while”. I bet!
Every room is full tonight, but Bernie gives each couple equal time to discuss their activities for the day ahead. You can’t beat the local knowledge folks! Next morning Bernie bustled around the kitchen table with plunger coffee and toast, while Gerard cooked breakfast. Now, here’s a man that considers if a job is worth doing, it should be done to perfection – no distractions. All the mushrooms on Michael’s plate are the same size and lined up like soldiers. The poached eggs are a work of art!
This has been a great home away from home and just enough out of the main Franz Josef township to ensure a silent night of deep sleep. Holly Homestead attracts polite and friendly guests – yet another memory to savour.
No matter how beautiful a region is, at some stage we have to move on and join other travellers driving out of Wanaka to Fox Glacier. On this route, there’s several scenic highlights on the way. Here’s just a few of them with our first stop at the Lake Wanaka Lookout in between Lake Hawea, called “The Neck”.
We’re still in the busy season and find ourselves jostling with other travellers for that perfect spot for a photo, but in this country it doesn’t take long to find some breathing space and Michael found his.
In the peak summer season, choose how you stop…wisely. Do not stop to take photos on a bend and I beg you, please DO NOT stop in the middle of a busy scenic road to study a map! Yes, this happened today.
New Zealand roads are generally well maintained and occasionally on our travels, we’ve come across the roadwork gangs. It usually means only a 5 minute wait which today, went quickly because of this incredibly entertaining character. We enjoyed his deep bows and exaggerated hand-sweeps, as he waved us through.
After a brief toilet stop at Makaroa, about one hour’s drive from Wanaka, we headed off to the well-known “Blue Pools” river spot right on SH6 in the Aspiring National Park…
This forest walk is so refreshing and easy – Rifleman and Fantail birds flitting around on either side of us.
The walkway is well maintained and the swing bridge is manageable for everyone…
…and the views! Pure blue water stretching out towards the Makaroa River.
So many angles with totally different views.
Back in the car, we headed through to the Haast Bridge, an impressive crisscross of steel girders – very reassuring.
We entered the lush-green West Coast region and travelled south of the Haast Village to the starting point of Waiatoto River Safaris. This 2 & a half hour tour has been highly recommended to us by our network. Michael was so pleased we checked out this one. Meeting co-owner and tour operator, Ruth Allanson was such a highlight!
Making good use out the fantastic West Coast weather, we stopped at Shipwreck Creek for an easy walk along a boardwalk to the beach. We missed out Monroe Beach (rare penguins to be seen at the right time of the year) but managed to stop at the Knights Point Lookout and once again, it was sensory overload.
From here we passed Lake Moeraki and Lake Paringa. It was such a ‘breeze’ to drive this part of the South Island with little traffic and spectacular scenery. Finally we passed the tiny settlements of Bruce Bay and Jacobs Creek before entering the Fox Glacier Village. After a quick shower we headed out for dinner at Lake Matheson then completed a tranquil evening walk around the lake – a great way to end a perfect day.
The punters are queuing at the ticket office and it’s only 9.30am. We’re here early at the Wanaka A & P Show at a perfect location along the shores of Lake Wanaka. This is my chance to celebrate an event where the local rural community rules and where boys get to be boys….to make ‘vroom vroom’ noises…
…some even get to be Super Heros.
I could care less about tractors but there’s always the pure Merino fashions to browse and a purchase of those cute little gifts that only seem to make an appearance at events like this. Yes, that’s a real apple in this birdfeeder.
There’s also the original and beautiful sturdy outdoor furniture, built to last more than one generation. I’d love this outdoor seat with the wheels. Maybe Michael could….nah.
Travellers with children should especially relish the chance to have their kids ‘let of steam’ for a while – screech to their hearts content.
We’ve seen marques being erected and heard the whinnying sound of show jumping horses.They look magnificent today with their plaited manes tossing impatiently in the air. It’s clear these four-legged kings reign supreme here and it’s amusing to watch their riders fussing around collecting their poo -worth it for some though.
I love the dog trials! The intelligence of these ‘eye’ dogs amaze and thrill me. The best performance are by those dogs whose dog handlers are the calmest.These well trained dogs refuse to be distracted and so little is required of the sheep.All they need finally do is trot a few metres into an open pen. What’s NOT to understand guys!!?
As a traveller, you can learn a lot from just walking around an event like this – listening to the local idiom, learning how Kiwis express themselves and sometimes hearing the accent for the very first time and truly getting a glimpse of what makes us tick.
Maybe the kids should get the last word here….
Cos these little guys only need to look around them to know what makes them happy.
It’s no fun being sick when you’re away from home. Today I woke up with a hacking cough and a blocked nose, but the sun was shining so we headed off on our bikes along the Wanaka lake shoreline to the Glendhu Bay camp ground. It’s an uphill track in places but the views are beautiful. We passed a few elderly folk on the way; people in their eighties with walking sticks haltingly making their way along the track – inspirational.
Isn’t it great that in many places throughout New Zealand, you only need to travel a few kms up the road to be away from crowds! On the way back we came across a neat opportunity to make a small contribution to conservation. The sign on the tank reads “We are thirsty, please water us”. How could we not oblige.
We couldn’t possibly bike back without popping into the much photographed Rippon Vineyard to enjoy the views…
…and take a wee climb to the tasting room…
to savour a sip of their 2011 Riesling.
They still haven’t found a cure for the common cold but if you need a break from consciously feeling yuk, views like these will go a long way to giving some respite:
Happy travelling folks!