Kia Ora as the Kiwi’s say!


One of the best times I had in New Zealand, last October, springtime in NZ, was my time doing photography in scenic Wanaka. Okay, I did get to photograph “That Wanaka Tree” at sunrise but I also went with a fellow photographer to catch the sunrise high in the hills on a ranch in Wanaka in proximity to the Mount Aspiring National Park.

That Wanaka Teree-1

That Wanaka Tree

Our pick up was early around 5:00 am so we could be set up and ready to witness one of life’s most amazing events: sunrise.  Let me just say that it took me days to get my hiking boots clean from all the crap from the roaming animals.

As always, sunrise takes your breath away as it slowly creeps up over the horizon and starts to spread warm light over the greedy landscape. I’ve never taken these moments for granted. As this spectacular landscape revealed itself, remember it was very dark when we arrived, we were close to tears by the majesty of it all.  The mountains, the lake and the sky all welcoming the new day.

Wanaka sunrise revised-1

We were lucky enough to have a great tour guide who knew just where the best views and reflections could be found. I highly recommend Ridgeline Adventures of Wanaka.  Mark was so helpful and knowledgeable.


New Zealand Wanaka-1The station ranch was full of sheep, red deer and cattle who were very inquisitive about their human visitors.

Red Deer-1

Red Deer


The town of Wanaka is small but welcoming on Lake Wanaka. There is great dining, shopping, art galleries and scenery. This gem of a town is a must when visiting the South Island of NZ. It is only about an hour from Queenstown and an easy day trip or overnight stay.  We stayed overnight to make our early  morning call but our second trip there started with a 4:45 pick up in Queenstown.

West Wanaka Station-1

Wanaka also has many hiking areas as its located in the Southern Alps of NZ’s South Island. The natural beauty in this region is outstanding. The lakes and mountains make it a perfect spot for enjoying outdoor sports and activities.


Try your hand at kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, off-roading, skiing, car racing, sailing, or just walking around or wine tasting.

The area is surrounded by glaciers, rivers, waterfalls, forests and mountains all within view of Mount Aspiring.

Mount Aspiring

Mount Aspiring in the background and the Matukituki River

If skiing is your pleasure the ski destination of Cardrona is just down the road. Seek out a restaurant overlooking the lake or find a vineyard and take a tour and a tasting. We had dinner one night at Kota Restaturant & Bar and tried the slow cooked lamb shank and the Kota style butter chicken.  An easy choice with great views to match!

Whatever your decide don’t miss this gem of a town!

Wanaka Federal Diner-1

Great breakfast at Federal Diner

Hopefully you can find the time to enjoy the wonders of the Mount Aspiring National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Area, the 3rd largest in NZ. There are so many experiences to enjoy even just star gazing.

Mount Aspriring Dawn Bl and WH-2

Here is a link to Kota Restaurant & Bar  and a link to the Bed & Breakfast we stayed at. (no they didn’t ask me to write about them or the B&B where we stayed)

Lime Tree Lodge is a luxury boutique B&B with exquisite en-suite rooms, gourmet breakfast, pool and gardens. A warm, welcoming fire in the living rooms with snacks and wine awaited our arrival.

That Wanaka Tree is probably the most famous tree in NZ and is consistently crowded with selfie takers and photographers.  Pack your patience and please all you photographers- be courteous! Take your photo and move out of the way.  We had some very inconsiderate photographers who wouldn’t move and were blocking everyone else’s shot.  Rude, just plain rude! The tree is sometimes in the water and sometimes not depending on the weather.  You just take your chances.

Here’s to new friends!

Lynda and us-1

From here we headed back to Queenstown, our homebase and then up to Lake Tekapo, Church of the Good Shepard, Lake Pukaki, Twizel and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.

Lake Pukaki-1

Lake Pukaki

More from my New Zealand adventures: Wine tasting in Central Otago and Bungy jumping; Onsen Hot Pools ; Queenstown – Glenorchy or Land of Lord of the Rings