Shawn loves to fly. He was even in the Air Force and during that time we lived across the street from the Air Force plane museum. Whoo. Hoo. I am good for about 5 minutes at a plane museum and then out comes a book. Shawn could spend days in there and never come out. So, with a short drive early in the morning, we were able to stop at a glider plane place so Shawn could go up in a glider. They put you in a plane with no engine and you are carried up in the air by a small prop plane with a very strong cable. Once they reach a certain altitude, the cable is let go and off you fly! This would be the first time Shawn has done this and it took about 45 minutes. Glad to see them land safely!
While he was up in the air, the pilot was talking about the local landscape. Sheep farmers brought in sheep to this area and the sheep ate the good grass underneath all the tussock grass which killed them. Ecologists Realized afterwards that the two grasses needed to be together to keep the mountains from eroding. We saw a great example of these grasses that have been restored as we drove through Lindis Pass, an area full of tussock-covered mountains. Tussock grasslands are very good at collecting water, holding water like a sponge and letting it go gradually. They can also catch water from fog and some tussocks provide water for people to use. Pretty thrifty grass.
Another pre-planned stop was to an interesting museum called Estrella Warbirds & Wheels. Oh boy. More planes. They did have some interesting airplanes, motorcycles, automobiles, classic art and trendy art. Something for everyone. The vintage cars were my favorite and I enjoyed taking pictures of all the hood ornaments on the cars. Can you guess what model cars they adorn? The highlight car was a Duesenberg owned by Carol Lombard and was completely restored. Such a classic car like this one is rare to see.
They also had an interesting fashion exhibit. Look at the pictures closely…they are made from unique items!
The drive through all the mountains is always a good ride and it makes us thirsty! Next stop-Rippon Winery that is located in the town of Wanaka. Beautifully set up on 50 acres overlooking Lake Wanaka, it is family owned and all organic. The fall colors were magnificent! Not only do they have a lovely setting, but their events room was gorgeous with a beautiful picture window overlooking Lake Wanaka. Oh, and their wine was good as well.
Driving into town, we parked alongside the road where we saw a beautiful line of trees. One girl was modeling some clothes, or just goofing off, but she was fun to watch.
As we walked along the lake, we saw a cluster of people in one spot with cameras. We had to check it out so we walked towards them and come to find out it is a spot where there is a world famous tree that grows in the lake, called the Lone Tree of Wanaka. Evidently, a farmer threw a fence post in the water and the willow tree grew from that. It is the most photographed tree in NZ so of course, I took a picture. And another. We even went back in the morning to take some more because the light was so different. Hard to pick a favorite!