From the Fox Glacier we had a day's driving ahead of us to our next destination, Wanaka where we stayed with some UK friends of ours (Pam and John) in their newly built house right on the edge of Lake Wanaka. We could certainly see why they have chosen to spend so much time in New Zealand each year!
Wanaka is a place of outstanding natural beauty and although the town still attracts many kiwis the area has also developed into a popular destination for international visitors. This sporty, laid back town offers a sharp contrast to the hype of Queenstown, its neighbour which is just over 100km away. We all loved the feel of the town straight away, well how could you not fall in love with the views of the surrounding mountains of the Mount Aspiring National Park, and Treble Cone and Cardrona, two of the South Islands top ski resorts.
We were going to be staying in Wanaka for four days, one of them being my birthday, and big one too, the big '30'!!! But what a way to spend the day, I couldn't have asked to spend it in a more spectacular place! My Mum and Pam knowing how much I like my sports and that I have been wanting to have another go at Wakeboarding (like snowboarding but on water) since my first taster at Xmas, tried to arrange for me to have a wakeboarding lesson on the lake for my birthday. This was going to be quite an expensive option though and I would only be on the water for an hour, so instead they managed to round up some of Pam's kiwi friends who live in Wanaka and own a couple of small powerboats, and we all piled out on the lake for the day with them, enjoying a picnic on the banks of Lake Wanaka with the sun shining, and I had a go at wakeboarding as one of the families owned a wakeboard! It took me a few attempts to get up on it which wasn't helped by everyone watching in anticipation as I was the only one having a go! But once up I eased back into it again like I had done at Xmas in Te Anau when Logan started teaching me. We had heard that there was a weather front moving in later in the day so had got out on the lake in the morning to get some good weather, and how accurate were the weather forecasts! Within no time at all the water started getting choppy as the wind picked up, our signal to pack up quick and get back to shore! The day was rounded off by a lovely meal with everyone cooked by Pam at her house, enjoying the spectacular views over Lake Wanaka as the sun went down!
The following day, eager to make the most of our time in Wanaka we decided to do a walk around Diamond Lake climbing high up into the surrounding peaks and upon reaching the top, some great views were had across Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountain peaks. We didn't hang around too long up there though as it was very chilly, the wind certainly picks up on top of those peaks! But the climb was definitely worth it!
Then in the afternoon we made a stop off at 'Rippon Vineyard' which has a stunning location right on the edge of Lake Wanaka. Apparently there is a link with the Rippon family that we know in the UK!! To round the day off we headed into town to check out 'Cinema Paradiso' which had been recommended to us! A great little quirky cinema - the seats are rows of old, comfy sofas that have been collected from various markets or second hand shops, you can even sit in a 'Morris Minor' to watch a film!! Certainly a different cinema experience from the ones we are used to!!! Then it was time to leave Wanaka and head further south, heading down to Queenstown.