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68 hours in Wanaka

After enduring a long-distance relationship while Russell was in an MIQF role in Auckland recently, the opportunity to spend a few days away together was very much needed before he headed back to work on base.

We chose to head down to Wanaka for 3 nights as it had been some 10-11 years since we were last there.  With it being the end of September, the weather would ensure the road trip was enjoyable and the roads safe to travel on.

We had done our research prior to leaving and knew what we wanted to do while down there.  With only two full days to explore, we knew we had to have an idea of what we wanted to do before we left home.

We arrived at 2.30pm on Thursday and unpacked the car at our accommodation before heading to Mt Iron to walk to the summit.  Having sat in the car for almost 5 hours, taking a walk to the summit (250m) would be a great way to stretch our legs.

Little did I know, that after not being able to exercise for the better part of a year, my ability to walk up the mountain was hindered due to my current level of fitness.  I found myself having to sit and rest several times along the way.

Realising that we were not even at the halfway point, I made the frustrating decision to head back down.  At this point my heart was racing, I was feeling lightheaded and dizzy due to the height we were at.  Russell was concerned I wouldn’t make it back down at all.

Feeling deflated, I made a goal to return a year later to walk to the summit.  This challenge would be catalogued for another day.

The Artisan Market is on every Thursday afternoon till 6pm and as we had spent longer on the mountain than we had anticipated, we chose to get changed for dinner instead and take a walk along the waterfront to decide where to have dinner.

We ended up choosing a restaurant that was recommended to us, although in hindsight I will remember that not all recommendations are reliable ones.  The food was lackluster, overpriced and easily something that could be made at home.  Their social distancing meant that the table of four seated behind us was so close that the person behind me was almost touching my chair.

When we travel, we always look for eateries that serve food that we cannot make at home.  We look for points of difference and menus that are different to what we have in our local area.  An early night was needed as we were heading to Arrowtown and Queenstown the following day so we headed back to our accommodation to unpack and rest.

The following morning Russell headed out to locate some breakfast as he had seen a Crêpe caravan that had piqued his interest.  Having never eaten a Crêpe before, now was the perfect time.  They were both amazing and something we would definitely order again.

One activity I have wanted to do since I was a child, was to pan for gold in Arrowtown.  So we headed there after breakfast.  Having had a quick look around, we walked down to the river to pan for our future.  I imagined us striking it rich and being able to clear our debts.

Three hours later and not finding the nuggets we were after, we made the decision to head straight to Gibbston Valley Winery for a cave tour instead of heading into Queenstown for lunch.  Being in the events industry, the cave is one option available to our clients to book to celebrate their special occasions.

We had a great time at the winery and even managed to sample some of their range including their sparkling rose and vintners plate.  This made for a relaxed drive back across the range to Cardrona for dinner.

Have you even been to Wanaka if you haven’t stopped by the Cardrona Hotel?  This iconic hotel is steeped in history and has a relaxed backyard atmosphere among the glasshouses and outdoor fire.  Sipping on a local sparkling rose while eating Russell’s southern fried chicken surrounded by stunning scenery was a great way to relax before heading back to our accommodation.

We were so close to visiting Queenstown, where neither of us have ever visited before, that we decided to return there again one day and spend longer touring each town.

Saturday would be spent relaxing and taking in the local sights.  First stop of the day was breakfast at Pembroke Patisserie in Albert Town.  While I don’t normally make a habit of eating pies for breakfast, seeing their cheeseburger pie, I couldn’t resist not trying one.

I was blown away.  A cheeseburger turned into a pie was the best thing I have eaten in a long time.  I also had a chocolate croissant although I don’t usually eat sweet treats until later in the day.  We made sure to take home two of their salted caramel doughnuts for afternoon tea as they were one of the reasons for being there.  The other reason was to sample their gingerbread biscuits which are delicious when paired with Whitestone Windsor Blue cheese along a bottle of Terrace Edge Liquid Geography Riesling.

After breakfast we headed out to the Lavender Farm.  Although the Lavender wouldn’t be in full bloom for another couple of months, being able to sit in the garden sipping Lavender tea and eating Lavender ice cream was something we felt we needed to do.  I even managed to purchase a few Lavender treats for our gift range for you all to enjoy too.

After having a rest back at our accommodation, we parked the car at one end of the waterfront and walked into town to take a look around the shops.  With it being Spring, people were still enjoying the ski fields in the area while one person even braved the cooler water for a swim in the lake.

After heading back to our accommodation, we opted for a quiet night in and decided to try the famous local fried chicken food truck.  Sadly, for us though it was close to running out of chicken and an hour behind with orders.  A quick Google search and we came across Red Star Burger Bar and their burger bowls.  Having never had a burger bowl before and always looking for carb less meal options, this was something I very much enjoyed.  It was amazing.

I only wish we had an option close to home so I can order burger bowls all the time.

68 hours in Wanaka is long enough for a short break away to relax and recharge and enjoy the scenery.  Next time we are there we plan to take in more sights and sample even more delicious treats.


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