Published on 11 June 2023 at 18:00

Autumn minibreak in Wanaka

We love a staycation, a long weekend, and birthday getaways.  Using my superpower of finding the best deals to travel I started researching for a hot deal for Tonys birthday, which coincides with a long weekend in New Zealand now known as Kings Birthday. After a few Google searches for options around the South Island, I remembered we had previously used the Club Wyndham timeshare around this time for a trip to Wanaka as they offer winter specials when the demand is lower.  After a quick search I found a unit which was available so jumped onto booking that, and that is how this weekend came to life.

Wanaka forms part of the Lakes District and is quickly becoming a favourite resort town for visitors near and far.  We have been lucky enough to visit Wanaka several times during different seasons and, no matter when you decide to travel, there is always something to do and see in this special town.

Our road trip began bright and early on the Saturday morning.  It takes around 5 hours to drive to Wanaka from Christchurch. I love stopping along the way (mainly to take photos) because the scenery is just gorgeous.

Our first micro stop was in Fairlie where we enjoyed a “best in the South Island” pie from the Fairlie Bakehouse.  I had the pork belly which is the most famous pie, and it was delicious. We also had to stop at Lake Tekapo for an afternoon drone session to capture the stunning aqua blue colour of this lake (caused by the presence of volcanic minerals in the water). We continued our leisurely drive winding our way through a couple of passes and into Wanaka. 

Being the beginning of June we were in for a cold snap, so I arranged the weekends activities based around our love for food and wine.  I timed our arrival to coincide with our first activity – a wine tasting at Maude Wines.  From their bistro you have a panoramic view across the lake which provides a prime spot to watch the sun go down behind the snow-capped mountains.  Our sommelier was outstanding with excellent knowledge of the vineyard and vintages.  We thoroughly enjoyed our tasting and left with several bottles of pinot noir and a bottle of bubbles to enjoy later.  Maude Wines’ tasting room shares facilities with Bistro Gentil, so it’s also a place to consider for dinner.

Tip: We were fortunate that Maude’s were open as most of the vineyards are closed for the season around this time of the year.  My recommendation is that if you are traveling around Central Otago in winter and wanting to visit vineyards then it’s best to call ahead to make sure they are open and taking bookings. 

After checking into Club Wyndham Wanaka, we headed into town by taxi.  Tip - if you are wanting to use the taxi service, it is advised to book since there is no Uber and only a few companies in town with limited cars.  We have always used Yello, and they have been extremely reliable, www.yello.co.nz or 0800 443 5555.

A couple of highlights were meals at two specific restaurants.  The Cow being the first. 

This simple but exquisite restaurant serves wood fire Pizza & Spaghetti.  A famous restaurant that has been in operation in Queenstown for over 40 years and opened in Wanaka in 2006.  You enter a stone barn which offers mood lighting, a roaring fireplace with a homely Italian flair. We shared a bottle of Chianti and a bowl of spaghetti.  It was all a little romantic and reminded us of our trip to Italy.

The second restaurant to mention is The Stoaker Room. The concept was developed by a couple of South Island blokes that wanted to cook by fire but there was a fire ban, so they need to search for alternative cooking methods. They had old wine barrels and created a cooking method like no other. Today the restaurant still cooks outdoors in barrels and trust me when I say that WOW the meat was SCRUMPCIOUS.  The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor dining options.  There is a lovely outside area with various barrel and picnic table seating options and views of the snowcapped mountains (and they have blankets for a chilly day).  We enjoyed a mulled wine in the sun before heading inside for our dinner.  

No matter what season you visit, The Stoaker room should be on your list. They do have a branch in Cromwell if you are not heading to Wanaka.

During the weekend we also visited Central Otago for a lunch and another wine tasting, then headed to Queenstown for a session at Onsen Hot Pools (I will write a separate blog about our experience).  The rest of our time in the spectacular town of Wanaka was relaxing at our timeshare, eating ice-creams at Patagonia, and watching a movie at the quaint “Cinema Paradiso”.  We have always had a great time here and this time was no different.  Wanaka never disappoints us, and I am sure we will be back again soon.

June 2023

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Carlize Harvey
a year ago

This is awesome! Keep up the hard mahi!