Wanaka is a picturesque haven, full of opportunities that are ripe for the picking/taking. There are many little niches around this lovely town that provide some great entertainment. The best of these would probably be the nature that thrives in and around the area of Wanaka.
Lush, emerald coloured grass, shines with the liveliness of youth from its rightful place, covering the spongy soil. A carpet as light as a feather that softly caresses the feet of those who run around on its plush surface. The flowing rug continues on to a row of boulders. A gate, not letting the grass anywhere near the beach of rocks, cool to the touch, that slopes down into the duck-filled water of our lake.The lake is as clear as glass in the shallows and reflects the latte colour of the many stones that line the bottom of the lakebed. Out further, to where you can no longer see the bottom, the eels roam free in their domain. This is where the lake is a forbidding dark blue that hints at its dangerous depths. The water, as icy cold as the glistening snow, shining from the white-capped mountains. This is the watery expanse from which our tiny town gained its name.
The looming mountains and hills surrounding us, the hills that give the West Coast of New Zealand it’s lovely rugged look, are ever vigilant, ever watching guards, protecting us from all except the wandering winds that sweep through our little settlement. Their snowy mountaintop coverings are like coats, trying to keep out the bitter cold of the winter that has fully overtaken Wanaka. All faces of these great mountains are covered by tourists and locals alike, all eager for the thrill of an awesome powder day up at the ski fields. The mountainous peaks are an aspiration for all who have a sense of adventure and for all who don’t mind a bit of hard work to get to an awesome view and the end of a goal.
The crisp and not-yet-warm sun pokes its brilliant, bright head over the mountainous horizon and reflects off the night’s frost that’s still clinging to the ground, with its burning-cold clasp. The radiant light of the rising sun reflects off the frozen, winter wonderland below. This light glints off the icy casings that cover all of the grass, bushes, and trees, the casings that give a hearty crunch when trampled underfoot. Crack, crash, crunch. This is the sound of an icicle falling from a high up branch in a young redwood tree, and smashing into millions of tiny, wicked sharp, shards of solidified water that had previously been falling in a light but continuous drizzle overnight.
The quiet sound of water flowing over the stones of the riverbed blends together with the gentle swaying of branches and falling leaves from the trees along with the birds nested there, chirping their melodious songs. All the wonderful sounds of nature blend into one cacophony of sound that flows along like the current of the great, Clutha river that twists around the bends and turns like a tightly wound braid.
Dead, bleached-ochre coloured grass stares out from the concrete textured ground. The prickly minefield gradually disappears as you walk towards the beach. It is as though the hot boulders lining the divide between dirt and grass, and stones and water, singe the grass. But only if it dares to grow too close to their burning heat. On the other side of the sentry-like boulders, there is a small expanse of scorching hot pebbles and stones that lead down into the nice, refreshing water of Lake Wanaka. This lakeside area thrives with the hustle and bustle that any tourist-friendly town does, the air is full of the shouts of children and adults, who are having fun by the lake.
The top layer from the nice, refreshing waters of our lake has a lovely warmth to it but once you pass through this layer, you are met with a freezing, lung constricting cold that ends only when you push off the multitude of minuscule rocks that cover the lakebed. You follow through with your trajectory and burst through the top heated layer of the water, continuing on to shoot out through the still, tranquil surface as well. The lake shines with the harsh, burning glare of the summer sun as it bounces off the many ripples that are caused by the hundreds of boats that glide through the water like an eagle, soaring through the sky. These ripples are the wake that the boats leave behind. These boats, weaving around each other in an intricate and elaborate sort of dance, that if one wrong move is made, there could be carnage. The wake of the boats roll slowly towards the shore, past the pontoon, and up onto stony land in a slow but rhythmic pattern. This pattern is almost like the great heartbeat of this thriving town’s namesake. The pontoon is covered with roughly twenty to thirty people or possibly more. all of these people are trying, with a terrific sense of perseverance and determination, to tip the large structure upside down. Every inch of the pontoon’s surface is covered by an excited body. The wake of the boats only encourages the rocking of the man-made structure into a full-out frenzy. As the pontoon tips from fully horizontal, to nearly vertical, people go flying from all sides, screaming and laughing as they do. The scene resembles a cloud (the pontoon) drizzling down raindrops (people) onto the surface of the lake and causing little ripples on the water from the raindrops (the splashes from the people hitting the water).
The mountains surrounding the lake radiate with a golden glow as the sunlight shines in rays down on the magnificent autumn brown, rich cedar, and autumn gold colours. Their faces swarming with walkers and bikers, out enjoying the loveliness of nature and the wonderful views provided on a beautiful summer day. The mountains slope downwards towards the vineyards and fruit farms in full bloom. All different types of fruit, berries, grapes and vegetables are on show, like blueberries, tomatoes, chardonnay grapes, apricots, and plums. The slight layer of clouds that the sun penetrates – line the otherwise clear and Royal blue sky – give the illusion of multiple beams of torchlight shining down on the paradisal, Garden of Eden, Wanaka. The scene this creates is a perfect, picture/postcard setting.