I drove into Wanaka right in time for lunch and my first stop was Bistro Gentil, where in a magical setting surrounding a pretty courtyard, Chef Mario Rodrigues garners the regional produce and sublimates them through his imaginative and refined cuisine, bursting with flavours and respectful of the product.
He conceives dishes with intelligence and intuition, subtlety and creative spirit and I got to savour the essential delights of the table.
Home-made chicken liver pate,served with the most artistic flair without compromising on the taste, a most original dish beyond creative but still “organic” as opposed to science experiments, was the highlight for me.
On offer were also Maude wines, from the nearby vineyard to reduce the environmental footprint of transporting this!
Local Maori culture
Wanaka is one of the most scenic places I have encountered. The majestic craggy mountains and the beautiful lake form a magnificent backdrop to this beautiful town. Wanaka has so much to offer that it is almost surreal.
I love their outdoors and the fabulous food, but no holiday to Wanaka is complete without a picture of the world famous Wanaka willow tree! Wanaka is also the preliminary point to discover nearby Mt Aspiring and the National Park.
I stayed at the Edgewater Resort and pulling away myself from the scenic beauty of the lake from my balcony was a bit difficult, but a walking tour with my Maori guide Joe took me closer to the lake and the tree and the local culture.
With Joe, I got to experience an up-close and personal Hongi and Haka at the Wanaka Tree which ended with a unique Maori bone carving necklace as a souvenir of my experience.
I love lavender in its original state as it brings a sense of peace and calm and looking at beautiful lavender fields is something I truly enjoy. For an entrance fee equivalent to just about Rs 100, I get to wander over the 10 acres of Lavender field and gardens. I see the fruit trees, alpacas and sheep.
Of course, a lavender farm is inevitable to retail its products. Out here, there is a wide variety of products to choose from, including oils, lotions and the works.
My favourite part is enjoying a scoop of lavender chocolate ice cream in their quaint little café. I was in love with the natural ambience, peaceful and oh-so-charming.
At 3,030 metres high, Mount Aspiring is often called the Matterhorn of the South. I took a Southern Alps air flight over Lake Wanaka and Wanaka Township, and was simply mesmerized by the view.
Highlights include Treble Cone ski field; Matukituki Valley; Bonar and Voltar glaciers; Mount Aspiring; and the Southern Alps.
I was back in town by the early evening to grab dinner and to get my fill of yet another sunset over the lake before heading for a movie at Ruby Cinema and Bar and calling it a day!
Best Place to Stay: Stay in one of Edgewater’s studios, suites or apartment accommodations on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
Best Places to Dine: Bistro Gentil for a farm to table experience, Big Fig for slow food served fast, and Francesca’s for super awesome Italian.