Wānaka is a town perfectly positioned. We have the golden rugged landscapes of Central Otago in one direction, the ridges of the Southern Alps in another, and two big blue lakes, Wānaka and Hāwea, in between. It's so easy for us to get into the outdoors - biking, swimming, climbing, playing in the snow – we sometimes forget these are the kinds of things people travel across the country, or across the world, to do. I have never lived anywhere more beautiful, and I've lived in a lot of sweet places.
Take a blat around the track at Bike Glendhu on an e-bike. Crazy good views (be sure to go up to Falcon's Nest and look back across Glendhu Bay all the way back to Wanaka), buff trails (if there's carved dirt anywhere that is more fun than Jairolla, I have yet to find it), and excellent nachos at the Velo, the base cafe. Catch a movie at one of Wānaka's two legendary indie cinemas, Ruby's or Cinema Paradiso. Get takeways from the food trucks on Brownston St, there's everything from burritos to Bangladeshi chaat to pad thai. Yerm.
There's a flourishing creative scene in Wānaka, and you don't need to be Elon Musk-rich to enjoy it. Head to Fitzpatrick's Irish Pub for live music every night at, including an open mic on Sunday nights, hang out at Busker's Square in front of Kai Whaka Pai on Ardmore St to hear pretty much every genre of music, or catch up with the Guerrilla Gigs crew who run lakefront "pop-up" gigs regularly across from the Wanaka Skate Park (guerrillagigs.nz).
Creative Juices Wanaka put on open mic nights for spoken word in the Malt Room at Rhyme & Reason brewery on the second Wednesday of every month. Pop on for cushions, cosy vibes, fairy lights and beautiful beers.
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Art lovers will want to investigate Gallery 33 Contemporary Art Gallery on Helwick St to browse works in a range of media including painting, sculpture, glass, ceramics and jewellery. Dublin Bay Pottery (signposted on the highway between Albert Town and Hawea) is set in a cottage just up the road from the serenity of Dublin Bay. Pick yourself up a hand-sculpted cup, and use it drink your flask of tea with your toes in the lake.
Laura Williamson is the GM of the Festival of Colour, a week-long arts and ideas festival from April 12-18. Read more at festivalofcolour.co.nz