Wanaka & Ar­row­town

Lake and moun­tain jew­els of the South.

North & South - - Promotion -

Wanaka and Ar­row­town – two con­tenders for the crown of Aotearoa’s pret­ti­est town – sit within 50 min­utes’ drive of each other, among the types of land­scapes that whip wed­ding plan­ners and film­mak­ers into a lather.

Both towns are also fo­cused on be­ing the host with the most. All your needs are catered for: there’s a range of ac­com­mo­da­tion, bou­tique shop­ping (knitwear is a spe­cial­ity) and plenty of options for food, wine and the caf­feine fix to fuel your day.

Hug­ging the curves of its glacier-carved lake, Wanaka is the per­fect base for ex­plor­ing Mt As­pir­ing Na­tional Park, where you can walk, hike or bike your way around pris­tine rivers, waterfalls, forests and moun­tains.

Win­ter shrouds the peaks with snow for su­perla­tive ski­ing and snow­board­ing, but ad­ven­ture still beck­ons year-round with the likes of canyon­ing, climb­ing, jet­boat­ing, sky­div­ing and fish­ing. Let a he­li­copter do some of the grunt work – drop­ping you off at around 2000m above sea level for some se­ri­ous moun­tain bik­ing on a num­ber of New Zealand’s high­est bike trails. Via fer­rata – a series of fixed iron steps sup­ported by a safety cable – also al­lows climbers of all abil­i­ties to scale rock faces with ease.

Back in town, sam­ple the lo­cal fare, such as merino lamb, ice cream (two home-grown brands!), ar­ti­san bread, beer and wine.

Wanaka’s unique at­trac­tions aren’t all na­ture-based. Get lost in a maze at Puz­zling World, revel in the won­ders of one of the world’s largest pri­vate col­lec­tions at the Na­tional Toy & Trans­port Mu­seum, and learn about leg­endary War­birds Over Wanaka founder Sir Tim Wal­lis at the War­birds and Wheels Mu­seum.

The drive over the Crown Range from Wanaka to Ar­row­town is an ad­ven­ture in it­self. It’s the high­est main road in New Zealand, reach­ing an alti­tude of 1121m. Al­low time to stop and ad­mire the spec­tac­u­lar views – and kea – and to re­lax at the his­toric Cardrona Hotel.

Like Wanaka, Ar­row­town is a great base for ex­plor­ing the lo­cal his­tory and land­scape. The set­tle­ment sprang up in the 1860s af­ter gold was dis­cov­ered in the area. (You can still pan for gold, and it’s worth a crack – in 2006, a South­land man snorkelling in the Ar­row River dis­cov­ered a gold nugget worth $15,000.)

You half ex­pect to hear the clip­clop of hooves as you me­an­der down pic­turesque Buckingham St, where a clus­ter of re­stored com­mer­cial build­ings opens out to a broad av­enue lined with trees and quaint min­ers’ cot­tages. The Lakes Dis­trict Mu­seum has a great ex­hibit on life in a gold­min­ing town, as well as il­lu­mi­nat­ing the area’s ear­lier Maori his­tory.

There are walk­ing tracks along­side the Ar­row River, where you’ll find the re­mains of the Chi­nese min­ers’ set­tle­ment, last in­hab­ited in 1928. Bring your tramp­ing gear to tackle the likes of the three-day Mo­tat­apu Track, part of which is used for a back- coun­try marathon.

The town boasts three golf cour­ses: Mill­brook Re­sort and The Hills, which co-host the New Zealand Open, and the Ar­row­town Golf Club. All three boast mag­nif­i­cent scenery to en­joy be­tween shots.

The view of Lake Wanaka from Mount Roy.

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