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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Lake Wanaka (via Queenstown)

Queenstown is built around Lake Wakatipu and, though not very high above sea level, is surrounded by mountains for great skiing (we've heard; we were there in December / summer!). Adventurers flock to Queenstown for skiing, snowboarding, jet boating, white water rafting, bunny jumping, mountain biking, paragliding, sky diving and so much more.

The grownups all noted a familiarity in Queenstown that reminded us of Aspen, Colorado. Turns out Queenstown and Aspen are sister cities!

Queenstown from above
We ate delicious food, flew on a prop plane to Milford Sound for a day cruise around the Sound, golfed, rode a gondola and went on a luge, worked our logic at puzzling world, swam in Lake Wanaka, enjoyed our resort and so much more!

I (Julie) had a ridiculous bucket list item to drive to Lake Wanaka to find the marker for the 45th parallel, halfway between the equator and south pole. I had researched which road to take, what the sign looked like and had a general idea when we were close. All that way and we never saw the sign 😢. We later learned it was on the opposite side of the road for the cars driving south to Queenstown (vs. north from Queenstown). Sigh.

Here I am in 2015 at the 45th parallel NORTH sign on our most recent trip to Northern Michigan. It's Harwin family tradition to stop at the sign for a photo!

We stopped at Puzzling World and, holy moly, the guys could've spent the entire day there! Brain teasers, illusions, mazes, puzzles and more.

The Great Maze! There are four coloured checkpoints in corners to complete the maze + finding the exit. Whoa!

Not all of us made it through the Great Maze. We split into a few "teams" but eventually some of us bailed. Others completed the quest. Kudos!

After several hours at Puzzling World, we continued on to Lake Wanaka. Stunning! 

Photo courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

The area has been described as "outstanding natural beauty." It did not disappoint! The focal point of the area for me was the fresh water lake. We quickly changed into swimming cossies (translation: swimsuits) and waded into the cool, refreshing water. I ventured out to a small floating pontoon while the boys splashed in the lake with Nani.

We walked around town a bit after swimming, grabbed some dinner (met some Americans / Wolverine fans!) and wrapped up our day. The journey back to Queenstown was a white knuckle drive filled with hairpin turns and stunning views. Every time the passengers gasped at the beauty, I freaked out as the driver. 

These pictures will never do this part of the world justice. Just know (in my opinion) it's worth every ounce of energy, day off work and dollar saved to get there.

We made it safely back to Queenstown, climbed into bed and prepared for another wonderful day...

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