After the stunning but seriously intense hike up to Franz Josef, we were once again back on the bus. This time, headed for Wanaka, and though I didn’t know it yet, we were about to view one of the most beautiful places on this earth.
Achy and tired, we weren’t mentally prepared for what was to come. The roads became more windy (winding not weather-wise) as we travelled through the mountains, and we began getting glimpses of the most postcard-esque views. Honestly, we were so knackered that we didn’t get off the bus for every photo-op, which I know sounds awful, but sometimes the Kiwi bus group goes a little overboard.
The bus took us straight to the Nomad hostel
sadly, though as soon as we had checked into our room we headed out to explore. The town of Wanaka, if you can even call it a town, revolves solely around the glistening Lake. Sure there are restaurants and a few shops, but really those are nothing to look at compared to the all-encompassing natural beauty of the place.
One thing to note, is that it is significantly colder in Wanaka. The Lake lies at the bottom of a valley, with steep mountains encompassing it, acting as a vacuum for the cooler air. You can wander pretty far around it, which we did on that very first evening, before moving on to sample some of the local cuisine.
There is a niche little cocktail bar that we tried which was actually pretty boujee inside but sort of unnecessary for such a gorgeous place – and we ended up heading out to the balcony to spend more time with the view. We also went to a delightful restaurant for some tapas but tbh this was after a couple of bottles at the local vineyard (more on this later) and so I obviously didn’t think to write down the name of the place…
We had two favourite foodie places in Wanaka, both very different. One at the aforementioned winery and one from a food-truck in the car park of the supermarket. Now I know what you’re thinking, but honestly it was a sort of hipster stone cooked pizza oven stall that was quite literally divine. You don’t get truffled venison salami on any old pizza, and you will never look back.
Needless to say, we sampled more than one pizza during our stay. Overall we were in Wanaka for around a week, which is quite a long time for a traveller, and quite a long time considering we didn’t partake in many of the ‘must-see’s’.
To be honest, the more I write these posts, the more I realise what an awful traveller I was. We didn’t take a look at the famous tree, we didn’t even do the recommended hikes; at the time we were so busy just taking it all in that we didn’t find a need to look up activities! Though ultimately, I think that’s ok too. Everyone is entitled to a different experience and a different adventure. Whether you choose to follow the guidebooks or not, I have no doubt that you will fall in love with Wanaka.
P.S. I realised that I mentioned a winery twice in this post and yet neglected to go into further detail. That’s because it was so good that it needs a post of it’s own – so stay tuned!