From Milford we took our time and weaved down toward Wanaka, a town we were told is worth a stop. It was so beyond worth it. Wanaka is very much like Tahoe, CA where it sits on a lake that is surrounded by gorgeous mountains. Since it was XMas we knew most things would be closed. no problem for us, it was time for a deserved day by the lake. The weather gods have LOVED us since Fiji, so the sun was ready to play.
A note about Freedom Camping:
It can lead to so many fun, exciting, nerve wracking situations. For example, our night outside of Wanaka it was getting a bit late and we just weren't ready to commit to any of the normal rest stops or Holiday parks. We want the PERFECT spot. So we pulled off on a tiny road that turned out to be nothing, but a van was nestled into the trees and its driver jumped out when he saw us turning around to leave. He obviously was a Freedom Camping connoisseur. Some might call him homeless, but no, he was a Freedom pro. He welcomed us to stay next to him, but when we told him we wanted something close to the water he had the perfect suggestion. (To be read with a very strong back country New Zealand accent. I will do a live rendition when I see you next) "You will see two houses on the road. After the second one is a gate. If its open, feel free to go down. If its closed, just open it and close it behind you. The guys who own the land don't mind if people camp there." GREAT! We were ready, but he had a bit more info. "If you see a guy in a red boat, he's real approachable. If you see a guy in a white boat, he's not as friendly, so just keep an eye.". Yikes. But this is the mentality here. Close the gate behind you and look out for the white boat. Otherwise, you are golden. Thanks, mate. It led to a great spot for us.