Letters to a Friend: Gucci Scarf and Gumboots

4.09.14: Wanaka, New Zealand (Katharine to Caroline)

Dearest Caroline,

I was saddened to read about Aunt Gloria’s passing, I know how much the journey unravelling your family history has meant to you and to lose another link must have been heart-wrenching.  I wish I could hug you, I have in my heart.

We are nearing the end of our adventures friend, so many stories to tell. Spring has arrived in Wanaka; daffodils, pink blossoms, baby calves and lambs. We’ve hardly had a winter though, with today being the 20th day of clear blue sky and sunshine. Some days it feels like mid-summer, the only hint of winter being a light coating of Jack Frost in the mornings. Locals are calling for rain; the land is hard and dry, the mountain road’s a dust bowl, while the Lake is low and water reserves are drying up.

We continue to ski despite the lack of snow, it’s hard to give it up when the days are so clear, and despite some icy terrain we can still find pockets of springy snow. With the sunshine has come more family adventures; this week we drove up the Skippers Canyon road. It’s one of the top ten most dangerous roads in the world, and Hanz was in seventh heaven. I on the other hand was not so keen on the sheer cliffs and precipitous drop-offs, along with the bumpy gravelly road, and overhead slips. I remember driving in to Skippers as a kid (one of those family adventures that only Dad really wanted to go on) and wondered how we ever did it without a four wheel drive.

Papa and Coco walking across Skipper’s Bridge

Papa and Coco walking across Skippers Bridge

Skippers is part of the Mount Aurum Recreation Reserve, and is where much of Wakatipu’s 1860s gold fever began. In the hills and valleys, men and their families searched for gold and fortune. Local legend has it that the pot of gold is still at the end of the Valley – maybe I should have taken a pan and shovel! It was only in 1946 that the pub closed and the settlement, which was one of the largest on the Shotover River, moved on. It struck me that it wasn’t that long ago – and yet the world today is so far removed from the black and white photos that hang in the Settlement House and School at the start of the Reserve.

View of Skippers Canyon

View of Skippers Canyon

Life is quite physical. If we’re not skiing we’re walking, climbing hills, bike riding and even kayaking.  There’s something about this place that makes one want to be outside enjoying nature at its best. I can understand why people bring up children here, the great outdoors is all embracing and there is so much to do at all levels.

We went kayaking last Sunday; it was a beautiful day paddling from Waterfall Creek to Ruby Island across the still lake with Mt Aspiring towering in the background, the sun catching her peak.  You’d laugh friend, Coco fell in the water, as only children tend to do, and as she was without pants I wrapped my Gucci scarf around her and she paraded around the island like a little fashionista! It didn’t last long.

Fashionista: gumboot and Gucci style

Fashionista: gumboot and Gucci style

As the weather has been so good we’re often found picnicking down at the Lake before dusk, we watch the sunset with a bottle of Lake Hayes pinot noir, creamy Whitestone Lindis Pass Brie and a favourite book. Coco, like Hazel, has tried fishing, no luck as we had no bait and cheese didn’t quite do the trick. I must say she is pretty good at occupying herself thanks to Cindy and Baby Yank (new doll you’ll meet her she was mine once);  although I am having to perfect my tolerance for games of make believe; playing mums and dads, puppies and shops. I’m even allowed to do it while I am reading.

Kayaking to Ruby Island

Kayaking to Ruby Island

Your conversation on the blog about home resonated; we talk of Wanaka as our home for now but as our adventure draws to an end our Auckland home begins to take shape again. It will be hard to leave, but in a way I know we are not living it real here. It’s still a holiday, even though most days I’m in touch with work, I do it from a ski field or a lakeside, up a hill surrounded by natural beauty.

I’ve thought about how we could make Wanaka our home permanently but it’s not clear, (unless the Big Wednesday comes our way). It’s a small town and despite the building boom, it would be hard for me to find work here.  The ideas go round and round in my head, maybe one day I will find the solution for now Auckland will be home. To live in both homes would be a perfect world.

I love the sound of Tamarui (and yes I will be jealous of your tan!). What a gem, your new found paradise off the well beaten track away from tourists. How did you find this place –  the beach and its sparkling waters, the diving board, children’s laughter, I bet you want to bottle it, so you can transport yourself back there in those times when city life begs to take control again. I wonder what will happen to my new found calm when I leave Wanaka and return to my Auckland home. Ok so it’s an occasional calm, but it’s the pace I am learning to savour.

Thanks for the book suggestions enjoying Invisible Circus. I’ve discovered Nora Ephron and love her style from journalist to novelist to blogger (in my next life!). And yes you should do what you are thinking of doing – now is the time my dear friend you have an amazing story to tell, you’re writing voice is tuned, you are ready and time will be your friend – do it!

Love you lots

xx Katherine

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