Wandering around Wanaka.


Fishing, when it’s done right, brings you close to nature.  Fishing is certainly a different experience for different people, you don’t have to look far to find a fly fisherman (for semantics, fisherman refers to the male and female version of the two-legged, pole wielding human) who will scoff at a bait fisherman.  But it’s a big planet with plenty of water to fish; we can all get along.  Fishing often means getting out of bed early, usually before the sun rises.  The advantage of this is several fold.  In many cases, the fishing is better in the early morning.  It also means you can spend more of the day on the water.  And, you get to see sunrises.  And what a sunrise it was in Wanaka on Sunday morning!


Wanaka is a small town about 300km Northwest of Dunedin.  It is, in the winter, a ski town, and in the summer a place to rest in between hikes and bike rides through the beautiful countryside.  It is primarily a tourist town, much like our own Lake Tahoe.  Most of the 7000 residents of Wanaka work in industries and jobs to service those who travel there to experience nature.  The commercial part of the town is small, not more than a city block in size and it has a distinctive alpine feel.  Ski shoppes outnumber hair salons four to one.  Restaurants face the lake, with inviting outdoor seating warmed by heating elements (and lots of beer).  Almost as a reflex, as you drive through the town you find yourself saying, “What a cute town.”  And it is.  I only spent a few minutes in the town, venturing there to pick up a bottle of wine (a Central Otago Pinot, of course) to bring to Ian and his partner Jill, who had invited me to dinner at their house after fishing all day Saturday.  For the record, three wine stores and one hair salon.  My kind of town.

As adorable as Wanaka is, you only spend the evenings in the town.  You go to Wanaka for skiing or snowboarding, fishing,  tramping (the Nz word for hiking), biking or kayaking.  I’m sure I forgot a sport, and if it’s yours, forgive me.   You are surrounded by mountains which  rise thousands of feet straight up from lake level, offering any one of many adventurous pursuits.  It’s difficult to describe how beautiful it is there.




Wait, how did that fish picture get in here?

Every turn around the winding roads in this area brings into view another vista more beautiful and majestic than the last.  You really have to be careful driving, because it’s hard not to be drawn to the scenery.  And Lord help me if there is a river near the road.  Every chance I get I’m peering over the side of the road, search for pools where trout would likely linger.  I have been known to drive just a little too close for comfort to the edge of the road trying to get a better look at the river (I was always comfortable; the others in the car, less so).   I’ve been told of a number of great tramps in the area (hiking to the tops of mountains, looking at a glacier, finding colonies of birds that nest there), that the biking is phenomenal (both mountain biking and road biking) and that the kayaking is unbelievable.  There were several weeks’ worth of things to do in 48 hours.  Good thing I kept it simple and just fished.

But I’ll never forget wading along the small stream, feeling the push of the crystal clear water against my waders, and smelling Spring.  You can pause life for a minute when you’re fishing.  You know the world is moving ahead, the water rushing by you reminds you that is true.  But you can pause.  You can breath in air so pure you feel its energy.  You can sense the power of the Earth, as it pushes the mountains surrounding you up just a little higher in the sky every year.  And because it’s Spring the birds will fill your ears with music even sweeter than a John Mayer ballad.  You might, or might not, have felt the tug of a trout at the end of your line that day.  But it matters less this, than the fact you were fishing. (OK, it matters a little).

Tight lines,


Published by dave clarke

I am different things to different people. Husband, father, doctor, teacher, friend, or if you're a fish, a fly fisherman. But really, I'm just a guy trying to learn about life, and if I'm lucky, maybe teach a little bit along the way. If I were a golfer (I'm not) I would be on the back nine of my life, or if I were a book, there would be more pages turned than not. Any yet, I'm far from finished creating chapters of my life. The goal of Next Chapters is inspiration, and I'm hopeful the traffic goes in both directions.

7 thoughts on “Wandering around Wanaka.

  1. Spot on! What a fabulous description of what I call the best vice ever. I sometimes get to pause whilst observing planes, trains, buses, cars, bikes and pedestrians all in my field of view at the same time… My fishing rod feels like a magic wand amidst all the hustle and bustle.

  2. anglin paradise, you make us sense the wadin. Jesus, the Lord, made it all for us to enjoy and walk with him to know his glory and power. We know him in so many ways through his creation namely his power, majesty and supreme knowledge.

  3. I see Grandpa’s angel sitting on your shoulder as hike down to the river in seek of that quiet, deep pool where the trout wait in the shadows for your bait to pass their way. What a happy day for you both. One question though, just how big is that fish when you don’t hold it with outstretched hands right in front of the camera lens?

    1. I’ve had both dad and Grandpa with me a bunch over the last week…just over my shoulder. I went into a coffee shop on Saturday with my guide, and there were about 20 old radios…so you were right, Grandpa was right there with me, looking over those radios. The fish were big, even without the outstretched hands, with the biggest weighing in a 5 1/2 pounds, and the others were 3 lbs and all were over 2 lbs. \


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