City Travels - Wanaka
From Queenstown, I made the short hop to Wanaka.
I was there for one night, on August 14th.
All prices are given in New Zealand dollars.
If you've read these other posts, you'll be able to guess that I rode with Intercity! However, Intercity outsources it's northbound busses up the West Coast of the south island to another company, but it's difficult to tell the difference in quality.
There is a City Connector bus to Wanaka that cost $35 dollars. I only paid $17 for my ticket, so looking for alternate methods of transportation is worth it. Also, the bus dropped me off right outside my hostel, but only because someone else had requested the specific stop. If I had requested the specific stop, it would have cost me a dollar more. But the driver had no problem with me leaving a few blocks early.
A Place to Stay and Work
I stayed at YHA - Purple Cow,which has an amazing view of Lake Wanaka. There is a fireplace and and lots of seating in front of the large window that faces the lake. While there is a large park between the lake and the hostel, there are no buildings obscuring the view, so you can eat your dinner or work on your laptop and still feel like your at the lake. I really enjoyed that.
I stayed in a 6-bed female dorm for $30. My room happened to be ensuite, as I believe all rooms at the hostel were. They do have public toilets at the end of the hallway, but I didn't see any public showers, which leads me to believe all the rooms were ensuite. I certainly didn't request ensuite.
The room had ample storage space, as many of the guests were staying there to ski. There was a closet full of extra blankets in the room, the room was kept warm, and clean. The bathroom was unremarkable, but that's a good thing in a hostel :) A shower, a toilet and a sink with enough space to move around in. The door slid instead of being an actual door, which also saved space.
The kitchen was huge, with a big island in the middle and counterspace all the way around the room. It also was used more heavily than any other YHA I've seen, which is good, but I'm not sure what about Wanaka gets people cooking.
There also was a TV lounge off to the side with about 8 couches, and people were actually in there. It's nice to see people use the resources in the hostel! While I might be making the hostel sound crowded, it doesn't feel annoying in any way. It actually feels like a hostel, with people hanging out and having a good time. I really enjoyed my stay here; it was certainly my favorite YHA.
Wanaka is close to the same physical size as Queenstown, but with less to do. I took a walk around the lake and around town.
Wanaka is home to what Google refers to as 'That Wanaka Tree'. There is a tree in the lake, and is a photographic hotspot. If you're in town, you should certainly give it a visit, it's about a 20 minute walk down the left side of the lake.
Down the right side of the lake, there is a scenic point you can visit. You can walk city streets for a shortcut to the point, or walk along the coast for a more scenic walk at twice the time.
You can also walk to the back of town to the local mountain! This hike does require climbing over steps that carry you over fences more than once. I admittedly did not make it up the mountain. I had spent all morning walking around the lake, and was already running low on energy. I made it up until I got a good view of town (about 20 minutes into a 45 minute walk), took a picture, decided I wouldn't see much more climbing higher, then turned around. The trail is a loop, but I obviously only walked a segment of it. The trail isn't super steep and is quite wide, but it is uphil the majority of the way. That happens when you climb a mountain!
I walked everywhere, which, much like Queenstown, is not hard to do in this town: it's quite densely compact.
I brought food I had from Queenstown with me and did not end up stopping for groceries or anything. Grilled cheese sandwhiches and tomato soup are quite transportable.
I did buy fruit in Cromswell however. Cromswell is halfway between Queenstown and Wanaka, and the bus made a quick 10 minute stop there. I got a bag of a variety of fruits for only $6, and those fruits lasted me 4 meals. Produce in New Zealand is very expensive, so this is an amazing deal. It's a great little place to check out!
I really felt like I saw everything here. The town is primarly an alternative place to stay rather than Queenstown. That being said, I do think it's worth a day trip.
I kinda wanted to check out the toy museum, but it is out of the center of town and the shuttle to get there is $15 each way. The expense wasn't worth it to me, but I do like old toys.