For most of April, we lived and worked in the beautiful town of Wanaka. When we drove through in our van we decided to try and find a helpx here, and managed to get a spot at Florence’s Foodstore and Cafe.
We lived with the owner, Sharyn, and David, a 17 year-old German student living in New Zealand for the year. After the nomadic (and compact) life of the camper, staying in a whole house was a nice change! A comfy double bed, our own living room and a nice home cooked meal every night were the rewards for our 28 hours a week.
From Monday to Friday, we worked from 10.30-3.30 in the cafe. While Laura’s Granary training soon kicked in, and she quickly established herself as a key member of the team, running food and using the till, I made do with the more manly tasks of cleaning the toilets and washing up. It wasn’t too bad though, and during a quieter week I spent the whole time working outside on the gardens. The team at Florence’s are all great, and we were made to feel a part of the family – the chef’s lunches and daily barista coffees were also pretty sweet! Over the Easter weekend, when things were insanely busy and we kept up with the pace, Sharyn labeled us both “machines”, which was high praise indeed!
Living in the same place for the first time in months, we got into a nice routine in Wanaka. The town sits on the edge of the lake, surrounded by mountains, so our half hour walk to and from work each day was amazingly scenic. After work, we’d stroll down into town and enjoy the beach, and amazingly for New Zealand, free and unlimited wifi. Googling and facetiming at the edge of the lake was the daily ritual. For the first week we’d sunbathe and swim, and after the clocks changed we’d wrap up warm and then enjoy the 5pm happy hour with some $5 drinks.
In the evenings, we made the most of Sharyn’s Video Ezy membership and rented loads of DVDs, or headed back into the town to the awesome Cinema Paradiso – Captain America for me, freshly baked interval cookies for Law. On days off we explored around the lake, and became true(ish) locals by climbing Mount Iron. Towards the end of our time and as Autumn set in, and the leaves changed to an amazing range of colours and snow began to appear on the mountain tops, we were still there in time for the Warbirds over Wanaka festival. The event runs every two years, and for days we could see and hear aeroplanes from WW1 onwards flying overhead and even saw the biggest crowd we’d ever seen in New Zealand at a lakeside aerial dogfight recreation.
This was the longest we’d spent in any place since volunteering, and it felt nice just to chill. Wanaka is such a cool town, and there aren’t many places we’d rather have worked and played for 3 and half weeks. So, thanks Video Ezy, The Trout, The Kai, BoaBoa Burger, Cinema Paradiso and of course Florence’s, we’ll miss you!
Top 5 films watched thanks to Cinema Paradiso / Video Ezy, in no particular order:
The Grand Budapest Hotel – classic Wes Anderson
Argo – tense BAfflek
We Bought a Zoo – Law’s choice
The Road – naked Viggo
Cloud Atlas – sci-fi love story epic