6th February, 2018
New Zealand is a wonderful country and Wanaka is a very beautiful place within this country of rolling hills, towering mountains and sparkling waterways.
We arrived in the early afternoon and the day was perfect. The lovely sunshine which kissed our shoulders was a welcome change from chilly breeze of Lake Tekapo.
As we arrived just after midday, our first order of business in Wanaka (after going for a quick drive around town to orient ourselves) was to find lunch. We went to Speight’s Alehouse at the end of the main drag. The restaurant was nice and casual, with a range of food and a lovely view of the lake.
After smashing our burgers and chips, we had some time to kill before we could enter our accommodation. So, we visited Puzzling World!
It is exactly what it sounds like – it aims to boggle and confuse the mind, and is concerned with all things illusionary and tricky. It was fantastic! I loved it, my sister loved it, our parents loved it! We were laughing like children in the Tilted Room and then running like children in the outdoor Maze. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon!
Then it was on to our accommodation, the lovely Bushmills Inn. The place was absolutely lovely, with nice rooms, a fruitful and colourful garden, and a killer view of the lake from the upstairs balcony.
Eager to make the most of the sunshine and the heat, we quickly dumped everything and changed into lighter clothes (the day had become surprisingly warm, and we were a little hot after running about the maze at Puzzling World).
It took all of about three minutes to walk to the lakeside – the accommodation was that close. We continued the theme of the holiday and grabbed a nice big ice-cream. Being only several days into our New Zealand adventure, we were already consuming far too much ice-cream for a family including two people with high cholesterol and one with lactose intolerance. However, the trend had been established, and it was to be carried out throughout the trip, as it turned out.
After our refreshing snack, we walked to the lake to dip in our feet. The water was icy and fresh, and I quickly decided that my little feet were better off bathing in the sun than the chilly waters of Lake Wanaka.
The lake was entirely peaceful. Several people floated by on kayaks, while others lazed under the large trees. The clear water was inhabited by some friendly ducks who were causing much delight to children and adults alike. It was an incredible picture of tranquillity, set against the backdrop of dark mountain ranges on all sides, some of them romantically capped with a little snow.
We walked further along the lake to where the majority of rentals (kayaks, boards, etc.) were located and the amount of young people on the beach increased. It was a busier section of the beach, and young people lounged on the grass and threw themselves off the jetty. It was all happening, just a couple minutes’ walk from the more peaceful side of Wanaka’s lakeside.
Either way, busy or peaceful, the lake was beautiful and there was a place for both those who wanted to have fun and those who simply wished to relax.
We ate dinner that night by the lakeside in a pub called Waterbar. It was a really chill place with great food, and after dinner we went for another lovely walk by the lake.
Lake Wanaka needs to be seen both during the shimmering day and then again as night encroaches for one to appreciate its true beauty. During the day, it is an array of gorgeous blues and greens, the playground of frolicking humans and ducks alike.
But as the sun sets, it becomes something else. During sunset, Lake Wanaka is a still and quiet mirror surface, untouched and calm, tinted by the pink and purple hues which stretch across the sky.
We drove around the lake to a small beach where we could look back at the town of Wanaka. A short row of shining lights indicated the main waterfront road, and all between us and that road was completely at peace. With the fall of the sun also comes a very noticeable fall in temperature, but the serenity of Lake Wanaka at sunset is not to be missed. It is a remarkable and surreally soothing experience. For all the water sports, hikes and eateries that Wanaka offers, watching the sun set over the lake will always remain one of the most precious experiences on offer.
We only stayed in Wanaka overnight, unfortunately – the road trip had to press onwards. However, it is a special place, definitely worth visiting, and I would love to return one day to spend more time in the lovely and lively lakeside town. Wanaka is still quite small, though it is clear that tourism is growing and will force the town to grow too. It is a stunning place, and a must-see on any tour of New Zealand. It remains one of the most beautiful and tranquil places I have ever been fortunate enough to visit.