Posted by: dammer145 | November 8, 2008

Who’s the birthday boy!

I was woken up by Anouk singing “Happy Birthday” – I was now officially an adult at 30! The surprise turned out to be a fly-fishing morning – our guide for the day was to be a young fellow called Jake. He picked us up at the camping at 08:30 and took us out into the Wanaka hills, far away from town. We were heading for the Matutapo river, a tributary to a river that flowed into lake Wanaka. We were in Jake’s 4×4 and it was a bit of a hairy drive to where we had to be. We got out and he sorted out all the gear. Anouk was not going to fish as previously she had jinxed me a bit – each time she went along she caught all the fish! She decided this time she would just take some pictures and read her book. We set off on foot down the river, past sheep and their lambs, and a cow that seemed to have lost her calf – she was on a rampage through the valley, mooing away.

Me and Jake.

We hadn’t seen many fish as we walked downstream, hopefully walking back would prove to be better. For those who don’t know how fishing on a shallow river for trout works: the fish face up-stream to catch any insects or bugs drifting down the river. That is why you have to approach them from the back – they cannot see you coming. We slowly waded up, Anouk had sat herself down by the river a little bit further upstream with her book. We tried all the usual spots: shadows, deep currents etc. but we hadn’t spotted any fish so far. It would take about an hour before we saw our first fish darting away – we had spooked it before we had noticed it.

Here fishy fishy fishy.

We made our way further down until Jake spotted a fish – in one of the deep currents under a tree it was happily feeding away on anything being carried downstream. With the help of Jake I managed to land a big nymph right in it’s path and bang! the fish took it. It put up quite a big struggle but we managed to land it. It was a pretty rainbow trout, a bit thin from having been spawning lately; a good catch nonetheless. On the way back upstream we passed a bunch of screeching oystercatchers.

My catch for the day.

We had apparently invaded their egg-laying territory and they were dive-bombing us with you-know-what. We saw a couple of their nests – three eggs in a small hole in the ground. We headed back for the car and along the way we saw one more fish – it was in a very difficult position though so we weren’t able to take it. It had been a lovely morning and a great birthday surprise! Jake dropped us off back at the camping.

On our way further south we passed by Puzzling World, just outside of Wanaka. It had an enormous maze built out of wooden walls and a couple of illusion rooms, containing things like large holograms and a room that seems to be a of a different size than it really is (rather hard to explain). A bit of a puzzling experience (hah!). We spent about an hour in the maze, at the end Anouk actually got lost in it.

"Which way is it??" "I don't know, I cheated."

Our target for today was Queenstown – a large ski resort about 120 km south of Wanaka. Anouk had another surprise lined up for me there on Sunday and we were going to have something to eat there as well to celebrate.

That was delicious!It was another scenic drive and we arrived at about 17:00. We set ourselves up at the camping and walked into town, just a stroll down the hill. We first went for a drink and then made our way to Roaring Megs – a restaurant Anouk had chosen for the awards it had received for its lamb and beef. As a starter we both had the wild venison ravioli with parmesan and as main course Anouk had the beef with kumara roesti and mushrooms. I had the lamb in a pastry crust with vegetables – delicious!! We finished the evening off with a treacle pudding for me and an apple and berry crumble for Anouk, yum yum. The whole lot had been swigged down with a bottle of local pinot noir, so a little tipsy we made our way back to the camping and crashed into bed.

What a birthday!


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