Wanaka is one of those places that I felt pained to leave. After a week’s stay, in beautiful spring weather, we returned to Wellington – and I sulked for a week. Don’t get me wrong – I do adore Wellington (after all it’s been my home for nearly twenty years!) but the holiday blues hit me hard on this return (which is rarely the case – as Wellington is such a great place to return home to!).
Anyway, the pain of leaving has subsided, I’m now firmly ensconced in my regular routines, and able to write and reflect on the amazing week we spent there on holiday.
We flew Wellington to Queenstown on a glorious spring day. The scenery as we flew over the southern alps and came into land was absolutely breath taking. Snow capped mountains filled my vision and glacial blue lakes filled the valleys.
We spent the afternoon bathed in sunshine, being talked into visiting an ‘ice bar’ by our children.
I have to say I was skeptical – but I’m rarely one to turn down a cocktail opportunity and the ice sculptures sounded like something worth checking out. It turned out that the experience was worth it (though we weren’t able to sustain more than twenty minutes in the freezing temperature!).
We also got talked into parting with too many dollars than I care to recall for Sophie and Alice to go on some crazy ‘shark boat’!
Anyway, they loved it and so the holiday was off to a cracking (and expensive) start. Before we could be fleeced for any more dollars (since that is what Queenstown does with expertise) we retreated to Wanaka, driving over the Crown Range Road.
We arrived on a quiet Sunday evening and visited a gorgeous little Indian restaurant (Ashraf’s Wanaka – as recommended on Trip Advisor), run by an amazing husband and wife team, before getting in a good night’s sleep and looking forward to a whole seven days in a slice of paradise.
Things we did and loved in Wanaka…
- We hit the slopes! It was the very last week of the ski season and Cardrona Alpine Resort had plenty of snow for us to enjoy some beautiful, quiet runs, on wide open slopes, without the crowds. This winter we’ve had some great snow experiences as a family and it’s so great that the children are all old enough to enjoy it. We drove down the mountain afterwards to be greeted by a van selling the most scrumptious gelato (Black Peak Gelato) and couldn’t believe our apres-ski taste buds.
- Visited Puzzle World, raced around the maze, enjoyed the optical illusions and the tilted house, and loved whiling away some time doing puzzles in the cafe. We’d last visited Puzzle World in the spring of 2013, when Alice had just turned 3 and was too young to take it all in – this time around she loved it and came away with a little ‘Tower of Wanaka’ puzzle that she couldn’t put down!
- Walked up the Mount Iron Track – a great family friendly walk with great views at the top.
- Kayaked and paddle boarded on Lake Wanaka – Paddle Wanaka
- Walked along by the lake admiring the scenery, swinging on a trapeze strung up from the boughs of a weeping willow tree and cooing over the ducklings.
- Dropped down into the big bowl at the skate park! Crazy fun! It took Alice all week to pluck up the courage, after her sister and a friend did it. On the last night she did it (and so did I – eek!)!. We watched amazingly skilled people dropping in on scooters and stunt bikes. The skate park in Wanaka has to be one of the most scenic skate parks in the world.
- Visited the National Transport & Toy Museum – wow – what an incredible collection and toys that took my husband and I back to our childhoods, whilst fascinating the children.
- Went gold panning at the historic Goldfields Mining Centre.
- Enjoyed watching the children tire themselves out on the climbing walls at ‘Base Camp‘ with the great ‘Clip ‘n Climb’ self-belay system.
- Spent time by a river, hanging out with our wonderful friend, Jane Kallahan – an amazing artist, and her son, whilst enjoying the spectacular scenery, peace and serenity.
All too soon our time in Wanaka was coming to an end. We left reluctantly, driving to Queenstown in silence and admiring the mountainous landscape we wished we had longer to explore.
For anyone that loves the outdoors Wanaka is paradise on earth – in all seasons.
We are heading back there in January and instead of skiing on the slopes of Cardrona we’ll give mountain biking a try! Hubby might take a flying lesson, we’ll enjoy some hikes in the hills and mountains, dips in the lake and more good food at the plentiful options of cafes, restaurants and bars (some of our ‘must try’ favourites from our week there are Big Fig, Urban Grind, Jack Rabbit Restaurant and Black Peak Gelato). We can’t wait to head back in January and try some more, along with Grandma and Grandad visiting us all the way from the UK!