For the past few weeks my temporary home has been at Wanaka Bakpaka, a hostel set on the hill above the lake, with commanding views of the water, a great kitchen and a huge common area where everyone gets to know each other and great friendships develop. Being my third year at this hostel it really does feel like a homecoming when I arrive and the staff know me. When Hannah came to work at the weekend I got a big welcome hug as well!
For the bargain price of $25 per night I get to sleep in a four bed dorm with its own bathroom. My roomies have mostly been long stayers like myself, which means we haven't been moved around to fill in spare spaces, and have all got used to each others movement patterns, waking times and late night habits. Including going out together for a few drinks from time to time. I felt for the poor lass in the fourth bed when we all arrived home one night so drunk none of us could walk straight, all stumbled into bed at separate times, used the toilet numerous times and probably snored loudly all night!
This year has been my most enjoyable so far, because the crew here at the hostel have been such a great bunch of people to hang out with. From getting hopelessly lost in the maze at Puzzling World to drinking far too many Jagerbombs, from roast dinners and sticky date pudding fests to skiing and boarding with crew at both Treble Cone and Cardrona. Who can forget Phil serenading us every night on his ukelele with his beautiful singing that brought more than one girl here to tears. Michelle with her insatiable need to do something fun brought us hours of entertainment with the balance board and hoola hoops. We're all becoming experts on the balance board (a skateboard deck balanced on a full plastic drink bottle), yesterday morning I read the paper at the same time...
Cooking, and baking in particular, is a real specialty at this hostel. With a fabulously well equipped kitchen you just can't help but indulge in culinary experiments. Marieke bakes bread, Yuri makes yoghurt, and the hoards of young Japanese snowboarders cook the most amazing meals each day. That kitchen sure gets well used. I repeated the roast lamb dinner again this year, with the addition of the now famous sticky date pudding. As usual, the SDP went down a treat and I cooked it again to celebrate Tina's birthday and to farewell Phil. Liz, one of the hostel owners, has been educating us with supposedly Kiwi specialties, like Pavlova, Lamingtons, Anzac biscuits and Afghans. Unsure the kiwis got there first on the first three though, bit of cross Tasman rivalry to be sure.
Evenings are spent sitting around talking about our days, viewing photos and footage people have shot. There's a team of snow kiters staying here at present, who kite up to the top of mountains and then freeboard down. Talk about amazing. Check out this video. Then there's the various national teams competing in competitions, predominantly freestyle, slopestyle and halfpipe. In fact some of the people staying here are internationally famous in their field, not that I know who they are, they're all just normal down to earth people without enough sponsorship to stay somewhere more posh.
Some people seem to think staying in a hostel isn't for them, especially the idea of sharing a room with strangers. But those strangers quickly become friends, and most hostel users are actually very considerate of others. What you give up in not having your own room to sleep in (actually singles and doubles are available), you gain by meeting a whole group of people who share your own passions for travel, skiing and boarding. You never feel lonely in a hostel. But then again, this hostel isn't just any old hostel, it's different. It has a homeliness that keeps people coming back. It doesn't court the tour group market, instead relying on word of mouth and return customers like myself. And given the hostel has been booked solid for the last month, it works!
I've a few more weeks before I leave, but from now on more of the winter ski and board crowd will be leaving and many tears will be shed. I'm going to miss every one of the new friends I've made this winter. Thank goodness for Facebook!!
Thanks to Yuri for the photos BTW
well mum says about Afghans: "I think these refer to leftovers from camels in the outback and/or their drivers." so I guess they aren't Kiwi either.....ReplyDelete