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Wanaka, New Zealand
Wanaka has the considerable attraction that it's still essentially a country village, not as developed as Queenstown, though the number of million dollar homes being built there are gradually eroding that sense of simplicity.
My only criticism is that I find it more expensive than Queenstown. In the more southerly centre competition is so brutal, prices are kept on a tighter rein.
In winter time Wanaka particularly popular because of two superb skifields, Cardrona and Treble Cone, nearby. But in summer the lake and the nearby Aspiring National Park take centre stage.
My ranking of one of Wanaka's more curious attractions is Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World. The Landsborough family is old time heritage here - they even have a river named after them. Stuart has built one of the quirkiest tourist attractions imaginable. It started as a 3-dimensional maze but blossomed into a full-out assault on your powers of reason, deduction and even disbelief.
If you'd like to up the voltage and get some serious adrenalin rushes try canyoning on the Matukituki River or kayaking on several of the local rivers. You could try tandem paragliding at Treble Cone or how about jet boating on the mighty Clutha River? You also rent kayaks canoes and aqua bikes.
Wanaka lies at the lip of the Mt Aspiring National Park and as such it has a wide variety of open-air adventure options. Track walking is an obvious one - but there are others. If you've ever wanted to try rock climbing here's a chance, and if you are into serious mountain climbing then this is one of the country's pre-eminent climbing areas.
One of the classic New Zealand photographs can be taken from just around the lakeat Rippon Vineyard. From above the vineyard you can shoot this wonderful vista of vine, lake and mountain.
If somehow you look at a Spitfire or a Hurricane - or even an ME109 - and get a lump in your throat because these are such superb machines. Machines of war, admittedly, designed to kill for sure - deadly but beautiful. You'll have to go to the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum out at the Wanaka Airport. And if you happen to be here at Easter in an even numbered year you can pig out on a feast of thoroughbred flying machines at the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow. While you're out that way - if museums are your gig - then look in on the Wanaka Transport and Toy Museum.
A New Zealand Travel Guide is written by David Morris and published by
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12 March 2012