Gathan Beaga

a long-expected party

There was a long-expected party – in many ways – down at Hawea this past weekend as my cousin Ross finally got married to the lovely Zoë. We, that is R. and I, had booked tickets as soon as we heard about it, many many months ago, and were all ready to fly out of Wellington and into Wanaka via Christchurch, leaving the kids at home with their maternal grandparents. This was a pretty bloody exciting prospect.

Lake Pukaki & Mt CookIt all got off to a good start at Wellington Airport, when I discovered their free WiFi service. How civilised! Not so civilised at Christchurch though, but it is a bit more feral down there after all. As we flew in I jokingly pointed out a very small plane to R., who has been somewhat nervous of flying after our nearly disastrous flight back from Brisbane in October, though a lightning storm that had half of the passengers screaming and the rest silently awaiting their fiery deaths. “It’s that pencil plane over there”, I said. Actually, it was. The fact that I was to be seated in “A” and R. in “F” suddenly made sense. Oops. Luckily the flight was a dream and we had some nice views of the mountains and lakes on the way into Wanaka.

That night, the stars by dubh, on Flickr - click for a bigger and better versionAt the airport my cousin Sue picked us up. We went into Wanaka and I was left to have a very pleasant wander about the town while the others did some girl stuff. I think I got a pretty good deal actually: the sun was hot but the air cool, and I took a few more pictures, as you do, when you’re a geek on the loose. Later: dinner with my parents at Hawea. And later on, after the others had retired for the evening, I went down to the lakefront to take some night shots. The stars were brilliant hard points, the night cool but still. It was magnificent.

The next day dawned, just as still but much hotter again. The ceremony was short and beautiful, as befitting both the temperature and the location; the bride and groom’s joy reflecting back on the audience.

The wedding day

The view from the reception marqueeWe were then all bussed down to my cousin Liz’s amazing house at Hawea Flat, where dinner was served in a very large marquee. It was some of the best food I’ve ever had at a wedding. I had to lift a few more of the lamb racks from the neighbouring table – how could they not eat all theirs? Crazy. And as we ate, the sun set over the mountains to the south west, illuminating the hills in its path in spectacular fashion.

There was more, much more of course: great music; lots of manic dancing (again from me); a few speeches (not from me); more wine; and a long wait to get home. Still, what an night! R. and I slept very well.

Bob the dogThe next day, Sunday, was again still, and yet hotter. It was an amazing run of windless weather. Much of the guest-list reassembled at the lake for a barbecue lunch, some swimming and boating, as is customary at a lake in hot weather. It was also a good chance to catch with a few more relatives I hadn’t got around to talking to, but being over-tired, slightly hungover and too hot I missed most of my chances. I am such a social creature.

So social in fact, that much later instead of eating dinner I spotted the moon rising over the flat lake. It was fucking amazing, providing light enough for some nice shots. The weird thing was that the clouds in this shot weren’t visible until I tried the polarising filter.

calm summer evening, Lake Hawea

Back up from the lake front for dinner, and there was time of course for more eating and drinking in the warm dark, our eyes compensating as far as they would go but the stories of family and friends lighting the rest of the way.

Monday was time to go home. R. and I cursing the practicality that made us live so far from this place, but again mitigated by a pleasant flight back to Christchurch and then on to home, where our children waited for us in the sweaty pit that Wellington had descended into while we were away.

It was a shock. But reality is like that.

[Oh, and I meant to say – there’s more photos here.]