The Big Trip: Wanaka

We were really sad to leave Franz Josef behind but were looking forward to heading to Wanaka.

Our first stop of the day wasn’t too far away as we popped round to Fox Glacier for a walk around Lake Matheson.  Sadly the low lying cloud made it hard for us to make out the glacier but we did see a small portion of Aoraki (Mount Cook).  We imagine the views would be stunning on a clear day.  After our short stroll we headed back and grabbed a hot drink before getting back on the bus.

We next stopped at the Tauparikaka Marine Reserve where we were lucky enough to see Hector’s Dolphins just off the beach.  We felt so fortunate to have been able to see them, especially since they are the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin.  After watching them play in the surf for a little bit, we returned to the bus to continue our journey.

Our journey took us through Haast and Haast Pass following the narrow winding road through Mount Aspiring National Park.

After a quite scary drive we arrive at Lake Hawea, the sister lake to Lake Wanaka.  Fed by the Hunter River and formed within a glacial valley, the lake is 22-miles (35km) at it’s longest.

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We arrived in Lake Wanaka and quickly checked in to our hostel.  We stayed at the YHA Wanaka which had beautiful views of the lake from the dining/lounge area.  Our room was in a separate block at the rear of the main building.  It consisted of two bedrooms, each sleeping three people, a bathroom, small kitchenette and a lounge area with dining table.  As with the YHA in Franz Josef, the hostel was well equipped, we even had the opportunity to bake some vegan muffins!  The first night we stayed we enjoyed a cinema night in the TV room, which was great.

Despite staying in the town for three nights we didn’t actually do much.  We spent a lovely afternoon with our friend Negin before she caught her bus.  We had a little date night and watched Deadpool at the cinema too.  The cinema we went to was Cinema Paradiso and it had been recommended to us by our friends Julian and Marieke.  The cinema is really unique as the main screen seating is a mishmash of old sofas, leather recliners and even a converted old Morris Minor.  There is also a café in the cinema so you can grab a meal before or after your film.  They even have an intermission during the film so you can buy fresh-from-the-oven cookies.  They also accommodated our dietary requirements.

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Hopefully we will get the opportunity to return to Wanaka in the future as we’d love the opportunity to check out the views at the top of Mount Iron and Mount Roy. And maybe another one of those cookies at the cinema…

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our accompanying video here.

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