South Island – Wanaka

“All right! That’s it, we are moving to Wanaka!”

Well, that was our thought when we first visited our favourite town in New Zealand last year. Fast forward to this year, that thought hasn’t falter and we still want to move here…perhaps in our 60s after we are done with travelling.

We love Wanaka for its relaxing lakeside setting, its stunning snow-capped Mt Aspiring backdrop and its close proximity to Queenstown. It suits our lifestyle to a T and the Wanakians (as we would call the locals) are very friendly and hospitable. They made our one-week stay so delightful that we were reluctant to leave.

That Wanaka Tree

Arguably the most photographed lonely tree in the world. Almost every visitor in Wanaka wants to get his or her best shot of the famous tree for their social media post. Although we do believe that it is over-rated, the iconic tree does make a nice subject in a picture with the lake and snow capped mountains as composition.

Our best shot of #ThatWanakaTree

Mount Iron Walk

Our Airbnb host does this walk twice a day and we could totally understand why. Mount Iron offers a spectacular 360-degree view of Wanaka surroundings from the summit and the easy loop walk took us only about 1.5hrs. We could definitely see ourselves doing this daily if (or when) we move here.

Isthmus Peak

In comparison to Mt Iron walk, Isthmus Peak Track certainly requires a good level of fitness to get to the peak. It was a relentless uphill climb on a pretty exposed terrain (1200m climb over 15.9km return). A decent pair of tramping boots is necessary. Do make sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen with you.

Roys Peak Track was our initial choice but too bad that it was closed for lambing season. Our 2nd choice, Isthmus Peak sure didn’t disappoint us; the view of both Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea at the top was unbelievable. Total time taken was 7hrs 30min return, with a 30mins break included at the peak and many photo/gazing stops. It was worth every single step although our knees were killing us at the end, due to the steep descent.

With our body still sore from the previous day, we decided to give ourselves a well deserved break from hiking. Lavender Farm visit was the perfect plan for the day! Never mind that the rows of lavender were not in bloom, we were rather amused by the adorable animals in the farm.

Blue Pools Walk

Great online reviews but seriously not that great…a lot of tourists and sandflies! An easy 30mins return to the beautiful clear water but it was hard to loiter around for too long, as we didn’t have any insect repellent with us. Sandflies bites are extremely nasty and irritating if you must know.

West Matukituki Valley Track

A fellow traveller we met highly recommended this “magical” valley track last year but we only covered a small section of it due to time constrain. This year we revisited and managed to complete the 18km track (from Raspberry carpark to Aspiring Hut), which took us 6 hrs return including a 30min break at the hut.

Driving over a couple of fords on the way to Raspberry carpark and getting up close with livestock, which were roaming freely on the private farmland and be surrounded by spectacular views of snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and glimpses of Rob Roy Glacier certainly made this track rather “magical”. We were glad that we came back and “conquered” it!

Next – South Island Lake Tekapo

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