Wandering Around Wanaka

Though we loved our breakfast at Joe’s Garage, where the wait staff was easygoing and fun, we were so disenchanted with Queenstown that we decided to leave early. Our trip took us up over a mountain pass…

 

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… and past a lupine-lined stream …

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… through the tiny hill town of Cardrona. The few buildings of this little resort area pass in a flash, but it’s hard to go by without stopping for this fence line:

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The “Bradrona” fence has been created to raise money for breast cancer research. I have no idea whether it’s working, but it’s certainly eye-catching.

Our final stop for the day was the pleasing town of Wanaka, which sits on the shores of Lake Wanaka with the peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park rising in the distance. The town has its fair share of tourists (hikers and water-skiers in the summer; skiers in the winter), but its wide streets and compact size make it feel manageable. We liked it almost immediately, stopping by a craft fair in their huge public park before heading up to the Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain track.

This hike involves a fairly easy walk up to Diamond Lake, which was the site of the 1954 Otago skating championships.

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You can walk up some switchbacks and stairs through native forest to the lake overlook:

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The trail then continues steeply up through shrub land and bluffs up to Rocky Mountain peak, which gives a great view of Lake Wanaka in one direction …

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… and the mountains and glaciers of the Southern Alps in the other:

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After some great fish and veggie tacos (and an outstanding, mouth burning chili margarita) at Amigos Mexican Grill, we spent the night camping at the Lake Outlet Holiday Park. Our campsite itself was nothing to write home about, but a five minute walk through the holiday park took us down to Lake Wanaka:

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It was too cold to go swimming (I tried), but we did get to watch people water skiing — in wetsuits:

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Sunset was amazing …

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… as was the starry sky at night – but we were in our sleeping bags long before it was fully dark enough to take it all in.

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