A Weekend in Wanaka

It is autumn.  Though it is still light at 8pm, the sun has set half an hour before, and if you wake before seven o’clock in the morning night still rules the sky.  We have sensed winter closing in, and with that, fewer opportunities for outdoor pursuits.  Our weekends have become a frenzy of ‘let’s get there now, before it’s too late’.  Not that there won’t be beauty in the winter, but being California folks we like to see places while wearing shorts.  It’s just who we are.

So last weekend (I’m only a week behind in the blog!) we headed out to Wanaka after Ryan’s and Matt’s water polo game.  If you’ve ever been to Wanaka, you won’t need me to recount its beauty.  If you’ve never been there, I’ll do my best to describe what a magical place in the world this is.



We arrived in Wanaka just after dark and the lake reflected the glowing evening sky.    If you have ever visiting Lake Tahoe, on the California/Nevada boarder, you know the setting.  A big, beautiful blue lake, surrounded by gorgeous mountain peaks.  Wanaka is all that, though it’s like going back in time and visiting Lake Tahoe 50 years ago.

On our first morning we rented kayaks and paddled out to Ruby Island.  Matt preferred to stay in he kayak (as you can see) and paddle around the island, while Deb, Ryan and I hike around the small little island.  We found a little wild apple tree, and munched on some apples during our mini-hike.  Yum.


Deb and Ryan checked their stomachs mid hike to see who was the most skinny (really…after eating an apple?).

Later that afternoon we went to ‘Have a Shot’; a place out by the airport with a golf range (the sheep mow the grass), and indoor and outdoor shooting ranges.  We thought we’d give it a try.

IMG_1820 IMG_1819

The boys were amazing!  But what was really amazing was when we went back the next day, Deb tried it.  She said, “Oh, I”ll be terrible at this.  I’ve never shot a gun before.  I’m too nervous to even shoot!”  The guns were 22 caliber rifles, and the targets were 20 meters away.  Deb got 23 bullseyes out of 25 shots, putting all of us to shame, and winning the admiration of the staff, who were seriously considering whether she was a secret agent with the FBI.

But I got ahead of myself.  Sunday morning (before Agent Debra had her chance at the range) we went for a hike into the Rob Roy Valley.  The views there were simply some of the most stunning I have ever seen (and I’ve done a lot of hiking).  I won’t try to describe what I saw…I’ll just show you.





The Matakitaki River runs along the floor of the valley, with towering mountain peaks on either side.  Beautiful.  Our hike was up through another valley to a glacier.


While we were there, the glacier calved; that was an incredible sound, and incredible site!  We were happy to be on the other side of the valley, as well.


The runoff from the glacier turns the stream a turquoise color, which almost makes it seem like someone came along and colored the water.  We also passed a waterfall, and there was a rainbow in the water fall.


After we got home that afternoon, we went up the winery along the shores of the lake, Rippon winery (for a little wine tasting, to go with our hike).  That’s something you don’t find at Lake Tahoe…a vineyard alongside the lake (hey, somebody get on that!).



You can see Ruby island just offshore…

On our final day of this three day weekend, we went into Arrowtown, just outside of Queenstown.  It is a very quaint little town with cute shops and great food.  It was truly an autumn day.


And then, on the way home we passed the 45th parallel,


and stopped in Aurum Winery to pick up some more of their very tasty olive oil (some of the Souther- most olive groves in the world) and a few bottles of the wine, too.

We managed a sunset that night at home,


And the next morning, as Deb and I were driving into work, there was full moon setting before the sun came up.


Deb and I have relished every minute of our time here.  New Zealand is a special place, to be sure.  There is beauty around every corner.  We certainly feel fortunate to be here, and to have the time to enjoy this wonderful country.  And while I  can show you pictures of the beauty, I cannot as easily show you the New Zealanders, who make living here such a delight.  They are some of the most heart warming, friendly people in the world.  When the boys are I are jogging, everyone we pass smiles.  Deb and I have frequently find ourselves commenting, after a conversation with one or the other locals, “They are just so genuine, and so nice!”

Hope you enjoy what we’ve shared,









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.

14 thoughts on “A Weekend in Wanaka

  1. Wait, is this the end of your blog??!? Your last paragraph & sign-off kind of sound like it. (I’m hoping not – am enjoying the view of the country through your family’s eyes.)

    1. No, not the end of my blog (which may come….but not for awhile). I am here at least until mid August. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. It’s quite an experience. cheers, david

      1. End of September-ish. I’m anticipating being there for 9months (assuming they approve the visa) but don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch 🙂

  2. Great post and fantastic pictures. Currently living and working in Wanaka so you’ve give us some grest insight of things to do. Hopefully we can challenge Deb’s shooting score 😉

    1. Thanks. Good luck bettering Deb’s score (I couldn’t). If you’re ever around Dunedin, give me a shout. Last weekend Deb and Ryan did the Central Rail Trail (from Clyde) and Matt and I fished the Clutha River (with a great guide, Greg Dougherty). So, so much fun. We stayed overnight in Cromwell, a very quiet town, but there’s lots to do there, too (racing, wine tasting, but hopefully not together).

  3. well, i will “take a shot” and say that it was cool to read the blog today. Great times there. About that lake being 50 yrs behind tahoe…How about purchasing some lake lots. Are they for sale? How is the real estate market there for waterfront property?

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