Who Invented This Country?
New Zealand does not seem of this earth according to Outside Magazine contributing editor Peter Heller, who writes that it’s “like a kid asked a genie to make a world full of everything fun and exotic and to get rid of all the people.” On an invitation to Wanaka, Heller describes: “Our first morning, we found a spider web in the crook of the side mirror of the rental car. It was nothing like the elegant spiral of Charlotte’s Web. It was the frenetic haphazard cross-hatchings of a hysteric. The forests we flew over are full of shaggy rimu that are 800 years old and tree ferns 20 feet high. You have seen the ferns someplace before – oh yeah, in the painted backdrops of the dinosaur dioramas at the natural history museum. The mountains are craggy, hung with glaciers, dotted with chamois and Himalayan tahr, and spilling with creeks full of German browns. On the lower slopes, elk and red deer graze. There is almost no one here. We camped along the Clutha River, which flows out of Lake Wanaka east of town, and fly-fished. I’d never seen such pristine water. Every stone magnified. We’d wade toward the bank thinking it was three feet deep tops and in no time were up to our chests. We went to pubs and drank stout and ate chips. We hopped on bikes, riding a locals’ favorite trail called Deans Bank along the high bluffs of the Clutha, swooping through pine forest and into meadows with wide views of distant peaks. It was world-class mountain biking and there were no rocks. A mountain-bike trail with no rocks. Who invented this country?”