Gorgeous mountains. Bustling tourists. Flowing rivers and lakes. Abundant life and numerous awaiting adventures. Welcome to Wanaka! The South Island of New Zealand, in the region of Otago.
Every place in the world has its unique story to tell. A fascinating history tracing back in time that has helped to place the stepping stones that bring us to today. Each step is not any less important than the other; as each step represents a monumental moment that has shaped the world we now live in.
I think what I like about Wanaka, however, is that it's become less commercialized than Queenstown. Some of the attractions available to tourists other than the cafes, restaurants and diverse nightlife, is Puzzle World and the Paradiso Cinema.
Puzzling world is a fun place for the family where you get to work yourself through a maze, optical illusions and see their leaning clock tower.
The theatre has old couches and an in-theatre Morris Minor. There are also a number of wineries in the area if you're really looking to satisfy your cravings for a glass of wine and a tour.
In close proximity to Classic Flights is also a Toy Museum; and in the winter, it's a perfect opportunity to view the Southern Lights. There is also horseback riding (which is one of my favourites).
If you're looking for some great hikes, you get access to Roy's peak, Mount Iron, Mount Grand and the Pisa Range, all of which are accompanied by breathtaking views.
Wanaka's history is filled with diverse stories of hardship and advancement.
When I visited New Zealand, Wanaka was an inevitable stop as my husband is a consultant for Classic Flights/Learn to Fly located at the Wanaka Airport. We pretty much in Wanaka 90% of the time.
Some of my experiences there were touring the local town, situated at the southern end of Lake Wanaka, surrounded by mountains. How's that for a coffee break view?
We also went for a hike in the woods, got to see the famous Wanaka Tree, ate some really delicious food and enjoyed some awesome coffee and a treat at their very well-known café and bakery, Patagonia. You could say Patagonia was my fill-in for Tim Horton's and Starbucks whilst visiting and they did not disappoint. Thanks Patagonia, I owe you one, bro.
Among these micro adventures, I got to fly with Sue Telford, Classic Flights' CEO, who has 3 plus years of exceptional flying experience and skill. She helped me gain a life-lasting experience of firsthand preview of what it is to be in the shoes of a pilot. Best of all, I think I quite fancied her unparalleled level of enthusiasm for her job; there is no doubt when she's flying, she's exactly where she's supposed to be.
Forget the 9-5 desk job; Wanaka is their daily aerial playground and the airplanes are their beautiful mediators for daily exploration with their beloved customers.
It's a memoir like no other.
I think what I liked about flying was seeing the advantage and leverage someone can gain who is interested in potentially acquiring their pilot's license. You come, get your hands on the yoke, trek that metal bird up into the air and by the time your come down, you have a foretaste of whether being a pilot is for you. Alongside that, you've now connected yourself with a good network of cordial and experienced people that are more than happy to guide you on your flying journey and direct you all the way through.
Another thing I'd like to mention that I really enjoyed was getting to pretty much be a temporary regular at the Warbirds and Wheels Café right next to Classic Flights.
Psssst, their brownies are to die for! Or that could be my infinity for chocolate-anything? In which case that might be a biased verdict. No seriously, though, try one. The food is great too if you're looking to grab a quick bite to eat and get your hands on some souvenirs while traveling for your loved ones, or yourself!
I'd highly recommend checking it out if you're passing through Wanaka.
One of the most obvious facts about Wanaka? The region of Wanaka has been the setting for many international movies, including my all-time favourite: The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit.
There is no shortage of outdoor recreational and tourism activities. Aside from hiking, you can try your go at mountain biking, mountaineering, rock climbing, fishing, paragliding, skydiving, kayaking, rafting, jetboating and environmental activities, including star gazing sounds romantic, no?
However, the one that tops that cake for this beautiful place that wouldn't make it what is today is its people. Wanaka is home to roughly 8,890 beautiful souls and is the country's 36th largest urban area and fourth largest in the area of Otago. There is no doubt on your time spent here you'll be meeting many wonderful people along the way who will be contributing to your overall experience in Wanaka and New Zealand in general. It's one of the many things I carry with me the most when I came back home.
Whether you're looking for a day trip or staying in the span of a few days or weeks, Wanaka is no doubt a place for collecting a myriad of memories and experiences. So, what are you waiting for? Book a ticket. Wanaka is waiting.