Oh Wanaka, how I loved this little lakeside town. Just even travelling here was amazing. The flight from Auckland to Queenstown was super scenic. I was glued to the window as the plane passed by snow-capped mountains, green fields, and river junctions. The shuttle bus from the airport dropped me off at Lake Wanaka just in time for sunset.
I had booked a private room at YHA Wanaka with a shared bathroom. I didn’t realise two rooms were sharing a little cabin. When I asked the receptionist how to lock my room she replied you can’t (I could only lock the door to the cabin, not the door to my room). I was unimpressed with the setup and would had booked a private ensuite room at a higher expense had I known that. There were no incidents though, and I actually enjoyed the company of the other travellers in the shared cabin.
When I came back from dinner on my arrival day I was greeted by four senior Japanese gentlemen at the table in the shared area. They offered me a beer and we said kanpai as we exchanged travel stories. It turned out they were cycling through New Zealand. When I asked if they had been to Okinawa one of them pointed to his Tour de Okinawa t-shirt and laughed. Some of the conversation was lost in translation, but it was a fun and very unexpected meeting.
The Japanese cyclers checked out the following morning.
I spent the day at Lake Wanaka and Mt Iron. Then I shared the cabin with two senior gentlemen from Auckland. One of them said I had to try the Whittaker’s chocolate in New Zealand. I wrote it down on my phone, but forgot about it. We talked about our hiking plans for the next day. I was going to Roy’s Peak and my cabin neighbours would drive to the Rob Roy Glacier Track.
The road to their track was closed though, so we all headed to Roy’s Peak. As we prepared to start walking one of them said you’re young and don’t have to wait for us. I was happy to hike alone and it allowed me to take as many photos as I wanted without slowing them down. We spoke again at the lookout, and later at the cabin in the evening. The view at Roy’s Peak was amazing and this was one of my favourite travel days ever.
I woke up to another blue sky the next day, which meant my tandem skydiving jump was on. In the afternoon I cycled to the upper end of Clutha River before I watched the sunset over Lake Wanaka for the last time.
In the evening I said hello to two asian girls at the table in the cabin, but we only talked briefly before I headed out to get dinner.
I wanted to see the sunrise at the tree in the lake, but I was too tired to set the alarm. Then I woke up early by myself anyway and looked out through the cabin door. I noticed some pink cotton clouds, grabbed my camera and ran to the beach. The sky was on fire, I had never seen a sunrise this red. The moment was over in ten minutes.
Wanaka lived up to my high expectations and I did several things for the first time. It was my premiere hike to a mountain summit, the first time I skydived, and also the first time I fell in love with a lake. Wanaka will always have a special place in my travel heart.