Turn your magic on, to me she'd say, everything you want's a dream away.
This place felt like a constant dream, a surreal experience wherever you went. I lost count of the amount of times the word "wow" fell out of my mouth. The air breathes so crisp and fresh and the atmosphere stretches to a quiet whisper. It was here, in Wanaka, we began our journey with a team of five to capture model Elsa Gelhard for our upcoming June / July issue. We reached new heights as nature found us all over.
In the heart of town with incredible views of Lake Wanaka and surrounds, the perfect home for us was Dungarvon Street Apartments, featuring interconnecting rooms with all the luxury warming needs. From spacious bedrooms with heated ensuites, large kitchens and indoor-outdoor dining areas, it was the perfect space for team bonding post-long shoot days. It’s also located directly in the centre of all you need and a great walking distance to many cafes, bars or restaurants. Cabin fever.
The quality of the produce in New Zealand alone is something to talk about. You can walk to the closest New World and buy some apples from the store which will render you speechless with their incredible taste. However, there are a few places other than the supermarket in which you can eat in Wanaka.
The Coffee Shack – When in need of a warm morning coffee, hot chocolate (for non-coffee drinkers like me) or some sweets, this is the place to be. The pocket-sized espresso bar has been converted from an old garage and has a focus on brilliant coffee. Enough said.
Big Fig – A slow food restaurant that serves fast and with no fuss. With an ever-changing seasonal menu that includes vegetarian tagines, stews, salads and slow cooked meats such a pomegranate beef cheeks. Prices are based on your plate size and the team is committed to reducing their impact on the environment.
Kika – A delicious dinner spot perfect for a group of friends. Everything on the menu is designed to share, with an incredible selection of wines to match. You can’t go past the Kika fried chicken, Roman gnocchi, market fish and lamb shoulder. If you have room for desert be sure to get the chocolate mousse cake or the Tom Selleck gelato (if anything just for the name).
There’s endless amounts of exploration to be had here in Wanaka. A constant flow of landscapes and hidden scenes, it’s rare to find such pure surrounds. And thanks to our Hertz van the team was able to travel all around with equipment and gear comfortably in toe. Keep moving.
Siberia Experience – This is a must do. A drive along the vast landscapes brings you to Makarora, where your pilot will greet you prior to your flight. In this case, it was the hilarious Ryan and his bright yellow plane Buttercup that took us on a breathtaking trip over alpine valleys, incredible mountains and waterfalls and then dropped us off in the middle of the Siberia Valley for further land adventure. Truly breathtaking.
Blue Pools – Just a quick drive from Makarora takes you to the Blue Pools trail. It’s a short wander through lush native forests and a stable but nerve-wracking swing bridge, until you arrive to the pools. A magic scene that makes you want to dive into the translucent waters.
Ridgeline Adventures – This is an epic 4WD tour, and we were lucky enough to have our awesome driver George from Ridgeline Adventures to guide us along the way. An unbelievable exploration through a high country private farm, with deer, cattle, and sheep sight seeing along the way. It’s a winding, bouncy drive up the steep, almost sketchy, hills until you reach the windy peak. But so worth it when you’re overlooking a glittering Lake Wanaka - a 360-degree view of something close to heaven.
New Zealand is very seasonal, so pack for the month you are in. In my case that looked like comfortable jeans, walking shoes and boots, a puffer jacket and a beanie to protect my head from those windy mountaintops. Sunscreen for your face and moisturiser is also a must.