No we are not renewing our vows! The wedding is of our friends Gill and Ross who are tying the knot at their beautiful home which has “pure mountain views”. It also has a two bedroom self contained Airbnb listing so if you are near to Wanaka and fancy waking up to this view……….. (Airbnb listing)
According to my better half, I can’t talk about the wedding before I tell you about all the excitement of our day out in Puzzling World.
It’s a Puzzling World!
We had done a recce a few days before and decided it was worth a visit. That 5 minute drop in to find out prices, opening times etc turned into 2 hours at the puzzle tables but all I can say is Jonno loves puzzles. When I say puzzles, they are not of the jig saw variety, although there are a few. They are of the brain teasing, problem solving variety.
Jonno assured me an early start was required so we arrived at 8.45am to get our hands stamped and enter the maze. In true JWalking fashion we stuck together, that was until Jonno got a little excited and veered off. The objective was to get to each of the four corner towers and I was slowing him down and obviously making ridiculous suggestions.
He was on a mission and blinded by the objective which he achieved really quickly leaving many a child by the wayside and me completely and hopelessly lost. Oh well I might be better at the indoor puzzles (but I wasn’t holding out too much hope).
Once I had escaped the maze we looked around the inside galleries. There were various optical illusions some of which we knew and others we have never seen. The one that intrigued me was the Hall of Following Faces. The room had five panels of concave plastic moulds of famous faces with light behind the panels. Churchill, Einstein, Mother Theresa, etc. As you walked around the walls it looked as if the heads in each panel were turning to follow you. I am not sure if the picture captures this but it was really clever.
Just like Las Vegas, it was time to hit the tables. The puzzle tables that is. There were at least 50 or so different puzzles which Jon was not going to leave until he had completed. After 2 hours, one cup of coffee and this outstanding achievement, it was time for me to hang up my puzzle board and escape. I survived the scary toilet murals and thank goodness they were only pictures – no puzzles for Jonno to solve in there.
Jon stayed on for another 3 or 4 hours and had members of the public and even the staff comparing notes over puzzles. What it is to be clever rather than just a kiwi balancer like me!
Back to the wedding….. we had met Gill on our first trip to Wanaka two years ago and kept in touch. At the time she told us about Ross, a guy who lived on a farm near Gisborne on the North Island. Two years down the line, he has moved to Wanaka and they have bought the mountain views house and are due to be married at the end of February. Our own son, Shaun, married the lovely Katie in July last year and we also helped out at a big country wedding so it was great to be able to share a few ideas and be a small part of the excitement. The ceremony will be held in their garden in front of the mountain views and the drinks and food will be eaten under the row of silver birches in a shady part of her garden. What is not to love? Having had a sneaky peak at ideas for tables, music and even a slice of the trial recipe for the cake, I am convinced it will be a magical, memorable day. We will raise a glass across the miles to the new Mr and Mrs Ross Muir. Ours will probably be hot chocolate if UK February temperatures are normal!
Bush Fire Drama
Whilst admiring the mountains one evening we spied what we thought was a bonfire. Ross and Gill said there couldn’t be because of the total fire ban. What started as a small amount of smoke soon spread across the hillside in the distance and we realised that a bush fire had taken hold.
These are incredibly dangerous things particularly after the amount of prolonged dry weather there has been and it wasn’t long before the helicopters were heading to the lake to fill their monsoon buckets. The helicopters looked like tiny little dots against the area consumed in smoke. Over 200 hectares were alight and around 8 helicopters were on the scene. The adjacent campsite, winery and homes were on alert to leave but luckily a change in the wind meant they were all saved from the path of the fire. Evidently the dampening down will carry on for weeks as the sparks can reignite at any time.
Looking back, I can’t believe how much we did whilst in Wanaka and it certainly wasn’t rushed. These are a few of my favourites:
- Wanaka Beerworks Brewery Tour and Tasting (and don’t miss the adjacent Transport and Toy Museum)
- Lavender Farm – great lavender and veggie gardens (with giant Connect 4!), gift shop and cafe
- Retail – Farmers Market, Salvation Army Op Shop and Wastebusters.
- The Spice Room – great Indian food, nice atmosphere and happy to pack up a doggie bag.
Our stay in Wanaka was transformed from a visit at an unknown airbnb to staying, eating, laughing and sharing time with friends we feel we have known for so much longer than in reality. Not forgetting, of course, their friendly furry and feathery friends. Here goes: the dogs – Rosie, Lucy and Maisie; the cat – Milo and the chooks – Louis, Wilma, Dino, Mother Hen and Baby Bird. All of these will no doubt be honoured guests on the wedding day and photo bombing at every opportunity.
03/01 – 07/01/2018