Wine Country (again)

After a refreshing morning kayak on Lake Moeraki, I settled in for a 2-hour scenic car drive along the West Coast to Lake Wanaka. It was such a beautiful day and my mom’s birthday, so I thought it’d be most appropriate to head further south to Central Otago, which is internationally-renown for its excellent Pinot Noir.

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My mom loves Pinot Noir, it’s her go-to wine, I think. So I didn’t think there was a more appropriate way to celebrate her birthday than lunch and a Pinot Noir! Mt. Difficulty is the winery I visited.

Mt. Difficulty Winery

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Now about the name...

"Mt. Difficulty" is the “merging” of four wineries in its heyday, and none of the 4 owners could agree on a new name. So, The name "Mt Difficulty Wines" could be said to be symbolic of the difficulties faced by growers trying to make the very best wine they possibly can, as well as the difficulties trying to get four assertive and opinionated parties to agree to anything!

Steak, please!

I opted for Mt. Difficulty not just because it was the most highly-rated on google, but the Cellar views for lunch seemed pretty spectacular. Got a really good steak and one of the signature Pinot Noir wines.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

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Edgewater Resort

After Mt. Difficulty, I headed back to Wanaka to check into my hotel at the Edgewater Resort. I think I hit the room jackpot here. Best view yet. I had a suite and that included the most important thing: a couch and TV. Why is that important?

Masters Sunday. (Go, Sergio!)

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View from balcony. No filter!
View from balcony. No filter!

Recharging Batteries

It was pretty awesome watching the Masters on Monday morning, perfect timing as I didn’t have anything pressing to do and took this as a day to relax and recharge. I walked around the small town of Wanaka and just looked around. The timing for my walk back was opportune as the sun was setting and I saw this tree out on the lake's "bank." Pretty neat, huh?

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Roy's Peak Hike

I planned to hike Roy’s Peak on Tuesday morning. I’d heard many people say,

only hike it on a clear day,” and

It’s the best view in all of New Zealand.”

So I watched the weather closely on Monday. Many models were pointing to clouds increasing around mid-day Tuesday, so I made the decision to set out as early as I could Tuesday morning. It is a 5-6 hour hike, so I figured if I could complete it by lunch, I’d be in the clear. (No pun intended).

Sunrise++

My early wake-up call was very rewarded with this stunning sunrise. I saw it only because of my suite and the look out over the lake as I caught up on a few emails. The vibrancy of this color was incredible. No filters on this picture -- as I told my friend Bob, this is New Zealand! I was already rewarded for waking up early.

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Baa!

I was pretty much one of few on the track at this early hour leading up to Roy’s Peak-- the sheep were still on the track, unfazed by my approach. 

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Just Kidding! This isn't the Top.

I made it to what I thought was the top, in 2 hours. But nope, instead, I look behind me on the switchback to see MORE climbing. 

More of what I consider insane. I was on all fours trying to climb these rocks. I had seen a few people already making it to the top. I kept wondering,

why isn’t anyone on this stretch of the trail!?

"how come no one else is going up or coming down?!”

I quickly realize I'm on a razor-thin trail and there's a vertical drop on both sides. I silently panic.

"[bleep] how the [bleep] will I get back down?!"

However, I continue on, staying on all fours and resolving to not look down to the sides again. Just the rocks and sand in front of me!

After what seems like ages (but was really probably only 5 minutes), I get to the top, and it is AWESOME. I seriously have another Julie Andrews moment here.

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The View *is* that good

The 360-degree view from the top was incredible! Mount Aspiring to one side, Lake Wanaka on another. These are the Southern Alps of New Zealand and it was breathtaking. Now I understand why one must go up on a clear(ish) day and why it's considered a top view in all of New Zealand.

Mount Aspiring on the horizon
Mount Aspiring on the horizon
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Top of Peak-400

How'd You Get Here?!

When I'm at the top, I see people approaching from a different direction. I look to their trail and realize that there was another, likely easier, way of getting to the top! DUH.

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On my way down, I notice the "fork" and how I missed the less-anxiety-inducing route.
On my way down, I notice the "fork" and how I missed the less-anxiety-inducing route.

The End!

I made it back to my car at 12:15. And you know what happens at 1 PM?

Rain.
Timed & planned that one just right!

Now I'm headed to Doubtful Sound in the Fjordlands for one final "excursion" before heading back home on Friday. It's a two-day, overnight kayaking trip. At least I can sit down for a couple days. 😉