I think I’m becoming a lake person or at the very least I can fully appreciate the beauty of lakes after this trip. Lake Wanaka is one of the largest of the Southern Lakes (third largest to be exact). It is 45km (~28 miles) long and home of the highly photographed “lonely tree.” Lake Wanaka has major summer holiday vibes and was filled with tourists and Kiwis alike, but it is also a hot spot during winter for ski season. There were some activities we could pay to do, but nothing that was really grabbing my attention. So I made the decision to just enjoy the town and chill out a bit. We were meant to do a night cruise on the evening we arrived, but there was some miscommunication and it was cancelled.
As a result however, my new Canadian friend and I discovered we were kindred spirits and that we both enjoyed the finer things in life. We treated ourselves to a delicious dinner at Kai Whakapai and as we were walking back to our respective accommodations we stumbled upon a wine tasting. SO of course we made a pitstop. Then we called it a night and made plans to meet for brunch in the AM at Alchemy. Surprisingly for this day and age, it was difficult to find a boozy brunch, but we found a restaurant that serves alcohol in the morning. So we made our own mimosas. Even with our early start somehow the morning flew by and we almost missed the bus! It wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world because we weren’t ready to leave Wanaka yet.
Wanaka is officially on the running list of places to come back to in New Zealand.
Accommodation – YHA Purple Cow
Stray guarantees rooms in certain hostels in the overnight stops. I’m guessing they have contracts with these places and honestly they have overall been good choices thus far. However, were the Stray allocated accommodation choices the best option in the cities we went to? Not always and they never included YHA’s.
The recommendation for Wanaka was definitely not the best. Not only was the rating super low on HostelWorld, but I was specifically told not to stay here. Thankfully, the town isn’t big so a different hostel was still in a reasonable walking distance from the pickup/drop off area. I was told to stay at the YHA by a fellow Stray passenger I had met on the drive from Welly to Auckland. As always I was impressed by the YHA’s top standard. The staff was extremely friendly, there was a large lounge and kitchen area, and the room was clean and spacious. They even had a veggie garden! I was in a four-person dorm with an ensuite bathroom. Based on what I also heard from the other passengers who stayed at different hostels I stand by what was recommended to me and agree that staying at the YHA is the move in Wanaka.