Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Off the hill days

You can't ski every day. Yeah, some people do, but they're usually only here for a short period and want to get as much time on the snow as possible. But when here for a while,  days off the mountain are necessary. Not only to sleep in, to rest and recover the legs, but to get in a bit of sightseeing and socialising, involving late nights and reckless imbibing.

Over the last 3 trips I've gone for walks around the lake and taken moody shots of the mountains, wildlife and rocks, so this year I thought I'd try for a point of difference. Yes there'll still be lots of lake and mountain shots, but I'm exploring a little further afield, and experimenting with some new lenses. In my half day in Perth enroute I swung by the Apple store and picked up a nifty little attachment for the iPhone called an Olloclip. It has 3 plastic lenses that allow you to take wide angle, fisheye and macro shots. We're not talking SLR fancy here, but alot of fun in a very small package.

My first little outing was to Mt Iron, a hill just behind town formed by glaciers 100,000 years ago, that affords great views down the Clutha Valley, over to Lake Hawea, and down the Lake to Treble Cone and Black Peak. The walk has a couple of steep sections, but is an easy climb for anyone with moderate fitness. In Wanaka, this means anyone under the age of 60 seems to run up and down it, whereas the septagenarians and older are excused from the jogging, and merely briskly walk their dogs up and down it. No couch potatoes in this neck of the woods!!

Being a tourist, I made it a leisurely stroll, all the more to be able to take photos of the view and play with the macro lens. Little patches of moss, shrivelled up berries, dried seedpods and even a yellow flower made it into my shots. Sure they aren't the best quality photos, but pretty good for a tiny iPhone sensor and a plastic lens.
Yesterday the weather closed in, and it snowed all day. In town it simply rained. Not a day for outdoorsy activities, so a crew of four of us from the hostel headed to Puzzling World, a bit of an institution here in Wanaka. It's probably a place you only go to once, but you definitely need to go with a group. It's all about puzzles and optical illusions, with rooms that distort perspective and planes of orientation, so you need mates along to take the photos. It's a hell of alot of fun, and then there's the maze. We split into 2 pairs to find our way first to the four different corners, and then to the exit. It isn't easy. Our pair managed without too much frustration using a mixture of logic and luck and only a few episodes of deja vu, but the other two got hopelessly lost, and after we'd waited 45min in the cafe, had a coffee, solved a few puzzles and noticed it was getting dark, we went and found them and directed them to an emergency exit. A few beers later and the trauma was all but forgotten. I promised I wouldn't mention names....

Today the clouds over the mountains will be lifting, but bitter experience has taught me to keep off the mountain during whiteouts. Even the seasickness tablets only have limited effectiveness. On Sunday I took the Go-Pro up and filmed in poor viz. Watching the footage on the computer even made me dizzy! But tomorrow the sun is meant to shine, so here's hoping.

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