We headed north and made a supper pit-stop in Queenstown. while in line at the fish-and-chips stand along the lakefront, a Hippie came up trying to trade the shop workers a bag of cherries (it is prime cherry season in NZ right now) for an order of fries. They refused him. The hippie then asked the people around if anyone would like to buy cherries from them or trade them an order of fries for a bag of cherries. To my amazement, no one in the crowd lunged at the opportunity as fast as I did. He was a very nice hippie, letting people sample the cherries and making small talk with everyone. A lot of people were quite smug and wouldn't take his cherries or talk to him, but we became fast friends.
I totally came out ahead on this transaction.
When you sit on a bench on the lakefront with food, this is what happens. Those ducks were aggressive. My hippie friend is in the circle of hippies in the background. I took him the rest of my personal order of fries when I had eaten my fill. they were all pretty happy about that. The ducks were mad though. You should have seen them devour a bunch of fries some lady threw on the ground. It made me look at ducks in a whole new light.
Moving on up the road, we got to Cromwell, Home of the Giant Fruit.
There are other towns with similar structures. One has a giant fish. One with a bunch of clydesdales.
So that was the ride up. For full disclosure, I will admit that we OBVIOUSLY grabbed some ice cream and hot chocolate from Patagonia, our favorite place in all of NZ... and we may have found another location in Wanaka on the way home, which was a great surprise!
But it's one of the gems we found in the middle of the weekend that ended up being the most incredible find of the weekend. When we were coming back from a dip in the hot springs pools at Lake Tekapo, we thought we would swing through Twizel (a tiny town) to see what was going on there, really thinking the answer would be 'nothing'. But we found Christmas. Creepy Christmas, that is. We could see tons of Christmas lights from quite a ways away, and thought we should check that out. as we drove up, there was a lot of apprehension as to whether or not we were supposed to go in, but the boys out-voted the girl, and before poor Rebecca could protest, we were walking into one of the most bizarre places in the world. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you "The Hillbillies" of Twizel, NZ:
This is a private residence where the owners 'decorate' for Christmas. It is basically a village of sheds full of themed items that is there all year. They put the extra spin on it with all the lights at Christmas. As fate would have it, we were there the first weekend they turned the lights on... How am I so incredibly lucky????
This doesn't even come close to relaying how uncomfortable the atmosphere was. There is loud Christmas music there, along with a dog barking. It really felt like a scene for a slasher movie.
Now imagine this in the dark, with only the Christmas lights to cast an eerie glow on everything.
I will say that the owners were actually quite delightful. They took us inside where teddy bears were dangling from the ceiling so densely that you couldn't see the actual ceiling. We talked for over half an hour. The lady was so proud of her wonderland. Aaron made a comment that we hadn't felt the Christmas spirit until we got there. She said " so this is like America?". Aaron very masterfully said "We don't have anything quite like this". the lady heard "This is better than America" and she then proceeded to scream that to her family back in the house.
Are you getting a sense of this place yet?
It's important to remember the Reason for the Season... in an arcade game... in the dark...in the most unsettling place you've ever been.
Unfortunately, this wasn't an actual bar.
this underwear-laden fence was what we had to walk through to get in to this place. You can see why Rebecca didn't want to go in. But we're so so so glad we stopped here.
Signing the guest book!!! We were HERE! and we loved it.
Thank you Hillbillies.
Thank you Universe.