Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wanaka (idyllic mountain town by picturesque lake)

As you probably know, we safely completed our journey ... but didn't get the blog updated with all the various travel highlights. Today we're going to feature Wanaka, which was one of our high-lights of our time in New Zealand. We took 147 photos/videos in Wanaka, and there are quite a few which we thought were fabulous (and some of which could be used to make postcards). Anyway, we thought we would share a small handful here for your viewing pleasure. The first photo is simply our family at the Lake Wanaka Centre where Warren gave a lecture about International Engineering.

Wanaka is a short drive from Queenstown (the popular adventure mecca of the world), but in many respects is a much nicer place to visit for a few reasons ... sunnier, warmer, more relaxed, a little cheaper, and it's at crossroads to central lakes (Mt Cook is 2.5 hrs away), west coast (Haast is 1.75 hrs away), Otago (Dunedin is 3.5 hrs away) and Southland (Gore is 3 hrs away). Regualr flights connect Wanaka with the expanding International Airport in Christchurch. Also, there is arguably better skiing from Wanaka. Of course we shouldn't be telling all these secrets so that it doesn't get too crowded with an added influx of tourists.
However, it's not just one particular peak that's spectacular, there's mountains all around the lake, and running off in almost every direction. Heliskiing is very popular, with lots of mountains and very few roads into these remote areas (except during the warm summer months).
Even the small mountains are beautiful. The tree colours are spectacular during the autumn months ... and the mild winter means a few trees have kept the remnants of the vibrant colour they displayed not long ago.
Although it was winter, we were indeed fortunate to visit during mild weather. It is incredibly beautiful all all times of the year, and at all times of the day. The changing light upon the mountains and lake were simply captivating.
The sky is amazing, especially at night, the air is clean, just like the water. The kids loved feeding the ducks at the lake, and you could see the bottom of the lake since the water was so clear.
Our stay was made all the more enjoyable because of the wonderful holiday house that we were able to rent for the short week we visited. The house was sunny and warm, two very important criteria when on holiday.
Best of all it had mountain views in three directions, although I've just put one photo below.
Hopefully we can visit again, for a little longer next time.

Warren & Colette