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Monday, July 22, 2024

10 years of residing in Wānaka as an expat


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Precisely ten years in the past, I arrived in Wānaka in just a little purple automobile with my complete life packed inside it. Again then, Wānaka was nonetheless a sleepy little mountain city the place Instagram wasn’t actually a factor, and nobody cared a few tree within the lake. I can’t consider I’ve handed a decade of residing in Wanaka. Once you begin to bear in mind in many years, you are feeling outdated.

Method again whent, I used to be running a blog full-time and will dwell wherever. After my lease led to Wellington, I headed south. Preferring the chiller Wānaka to Queenstown, I ended up settling right here. It was a simple place to fall in love with. It nonetheless is.

Like so many expats who settle right here, I got here for a short while and simply by no means left. Properly, I did transfer to Lyttelton (Christchurch) for a few years throughout COVID, you realize, for love, however I’m attempting to overlook that. As quickly as issues went tits up, I ran straight again into the arms of all my mates in Wānaka. Dwelling.

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

Whereas my emotions for Wānaka have turn out to be extra difficult over time, and I’m nonetheless reconciling myself with them, it nonetheless seems like residence to me. Don’t get me incorrect; I adore it right here. However Wānaka’s modified a lot over the previous decade, rising and increasing quickly, similar to so many resort cities worldwide. 

Honestly? I’m largely disillusioned with the associated fee. The common home prices round $1.5 million right this moment, which has modified the city’s vibe. I’ve by no means owned a house earlier than, and I don’t actually see how I may ever afford my first home to be right here. It’s $175 to replenish my automobile. One bag of groceries is $100. Lunch is $30. It’s actually laborious to get forward. Just lately, I used to be in Melbourne, and it was cheaper than Wānaka!

In any case, New Zealand is formally in a recession. I additionally know that is simply how issues work. Cities develop, particularly lovely ones. As I replicate again on these ten years, my coronary heart fills with emotion. Whereas I’m not sure I’ll be right here without end, Wānaka undoubtedly buried underneath my pores and skin and has turn out to be a giant a part of me.

Listed here are ten of the various causes I fell in love with Wānaka.

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

1. The epic panorama and mindboggling views

Okay, I’m going to be sincere right here. Wanaka may have 1,000,000 issues going for it (and it does), however one will all the time high all the remainder: it’s insanely lovely. Like, it doesn’t look actual sort of lovely. That is why individuals pay hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to dwell right here. And why younger individuals will dwell of their vehicles for the possibility to spend time right here. 

You’ve seen it throughout social media. Irrespective of the place you stroll outdoors, you could have a stupendous view of the mountains. Proper subsequent door to a nationwide park and nestled alongside a pristine blue lake with even greater mountains because the backdrop, it’s no shock that all of us are wooed by her magnificence. You may’t take a nasty picture right here. You may’t.

You’re by no means removed from a tremendous hike or out of doors journey in Wānaka. A mecca for out of doors lovers in addition to curious vacationers, you couldn’t ask for a extra picturesque backdrop.

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

2. Small-town vibes for actual

Despite the fact that the inhabitants right here in Wānaka has doubled within the decade I’ve lived right here, it nonetheless exudes small-town vibes. A form and pleasant place (additionally very rich); you’ll all the time see individuals you realize while you exit. It’s the sort of place the place everybody is aware of your title, from the postie to mates of mates to your barista. It’s great but in addition makes courting laborious and considerably incestuous.

Crime is rarely on anybody’s thoughts in Wānaka; it’s the sort of place the place you’ll be able to go away your pockets and telephone on a restaurant desk, and it’ll nonetheless be there while you come again. In truth, our weekly information bulletin, The Messenger, has a Crimestoppers column written up by the native constable, and it’s typically hilarious. Firstly, as a result of the “crimes” a usually not even crimes, just like the one time the police went to the native petrol station at evening to examine an alarm going off and by accident set off the anti-burglar fog canon on themselves. 

Or the truth that they like to share their very own ideas and opinions on the crimes themselves: “Now you’d choke in your cornflakes in the event you noticed what number of crashes we’ve had on our roads over the previous two weeks. I gained’t bore you with the listing, however we’ll share a pair. Oh, to be a tow truck driver…”

Like it.

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

3. You’re surrounded by adventures

One of many first issues I seen whereas residing in Wanaka was that there isn’t any scarcity of journey available right here. And there’s no scarcity of badass adventurers, both.

The gateway to Mount Aspiring Nationwide Park, Wānaka, is the right base for individuals who like to spend their time outside. Established in 1964 and masking over 3,500 sq. kilometers, the nationwide park sits on the backside of the Southern Alps and sprawls in direction of the Haast Cross to the west coast, throughout to Glenorchy, and right down to Fiordland. Lorded over by the right peak, Mount Aspiring/Tititea (3,033 meters) and plenty of glaciers, it’s a stupendous place to discover. 

Whether or not you’re tramping within the mountains, crusing on the lake, snowboarding recent powder, mountain climbing down the valley, or mountain biking after work, Wānaka was made for the adventurous.

In some ways, journey right here is rather more right down to earth than in Queenstown. The hikes might be actually laborious and infrequently not straightforward to entry. If you would like nature, you chuck in your boots and stroll to it.

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

4. Each season is superb

Considered one of my favourite issues about residing in Wanaka is that we’ve 4 distinct seasons. Granted, they’re reversed from the northern hemisphere however you get used to it. Christmas in the midst of summer season is definitely superior. 

In autumn, every part turns purple and gold. We now have virtually no native deciduous bushes in New Zealand, and sadly, the entire natives had been burned for farming as soon as people settled right here. However due to all these farms, many different bushes had been launched, like poplars and different old-school European bushes. Additionally, there are tons of vineyards, so the panorama right here pops with shade come autumn (April). It’s probably the greatest locations for fall foliage.

We now have two epic ski fields close by and snowy mountains in winter. Spring turns the panorama right into a rainbow of colours, and our summers are tremendous scorching and dry, the place everybody hangs out by clear blue lakes. Perfection.

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

5. Hāwea is definitely the very best

Is it bizarre that considered one of my favourite elements of Wānaka is Hāwea? A bit of suburb of Wānaka, Lake Hāwea is simply fifteen minutes down the street in direction of the West Coast on one other magical alpine lake. Spoiler alert – Lake Hāwea beats Lake Wānaka. I’ll die on this hill. Clearer and quieter, it’s colder, nevertheless it’s so relaxed and exquisite. Typically, I’m the one individual on the seaside, so far as I can see.

A decade in the past, Hāwea was just a bit assortment of baches (vacation homes) and residential to the hippier hippies of Wānaka. Artsy, quiet, and inventive, it appeared so distant again then. Now, lots of the paddocks are being developed and turning into these cookie-cutter neighborhoods, just a little extra “reasonably priced” at round 1,000,000 {dollars}. It’s the place all of my mates have moved to and constructed homes. 

I’ve lived in Hāwea for almost two years now and adore it. It’s nonetheless actually chill. We now have a nook store, and that’s about it. I take lengthy walks each day and may simply stroll to my mates’ homes. In the summertime I swim within the lake virtually day-after-day. It’s magic.

Once I was engaged on a ship within the Arctic, I met a passenger who had an artist pal they met touring residing in Hāwea. They wrote him a letter and requested me to offer it to him. I had no thought who he was. Once I acquired residence I posted the title of the individual in our group Fb group about it and located him to drop off the letter. Everybody liked the story. 

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

6. Work doesn’t outline you

Wānaka is the sort of place the place the individuals who dwell right here actually need to be right here. It’s a must to really need it to afford it. It attracts actually inventive, attention-grabbing, chill, and outdoorsy individuals, all united by a love of nature. With out the job alternatives of huge cities, individuals simply take no matter work they will get to proceed residing in Wanaka, even for just a little bit. 

However what’s so cool is that your passions and hobbies matter greater than your job. Who you actually are. Nobody actually cares what your job is. I really like that. 

I’ll say making mates in Wānaka isn’t tremendous straightforward. A transitory city by nature; if locals assume you’re solely right here touring or seasonally, they won’t trouble with you. Harsh, I do know. However when you’re in, you’re in. And probably the greatest methods to fulfill likeminded individuals right here is getting concerned with the outdoorsy stuff. There’s a lot of it.

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

7. Epic ski fields close by

By and enormous, Wānaka is a ski city. Cardrona and Treble Cone are two of New Zealand’s most iconic ski fields, and they’re each subsequent to Wānaka. Wintertime is simply as busy as summertime right here. It’s very a lot a resort city however not as tremendous duper flashy, like Whistler. We even have nice heliskiing too. 

We’re old style right here and happy with it. There aren’t any massive gondolas to hold you as much as the highest of the mountain. It’s a must to drive up dust roads to achieve the ski fields, and there are just a few chairlifts at every. However it’s so superb. Above the alpine layer, we’ve no bushes, so the views out are spectacular. Additionally, surprisingly, we’ve the calmest climate in winter. Not lots of wind. We get loads of bluebird calm days within the sunshine.

Wānaka within the wintertime is admittedly simply good.

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

8. It’s near all the very best spots

Among the finest elements of residing in Wanaka is not only what’s round city however the truth that it’s so central to a number of the greatest areas. Simply over the hill, you’ve acquired the larger hub of Queenstown with the principle airport, loads of single males, and, most significantly, Kmart. 

Along with being surrounded by nationwide parks, wine nation round Central Otago is lower than an hour’s drive away from Wānaka, with a number of the greatest pinot noir round. Clyde, Cromwell, and Alexandra are straightforward to get to. We now have two nice ski fields inside a simple drive, and Cardrona and Arrowtown are each cute stops on the way in which over the Crown Vary to Queenstown.

The coast is just a few hours away, with most of us both bopping right down to the Catlins or Riverton or heading over to the west coast for some sea air. Dunedin, the principle metropolis for our area, is three hours away.

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

9. It’s tremendous cute and quirky

Whereas growth in Wānaka is booming, the nice native haunts endure. Stuffed with appeal, historical past, and tremendous quirky, they’re the locations that make so many people fall in love with residing in Wanaka.

We now have an enormous fence lined in bras down the street at Cardrona. Not rather more to it than that. The Cardrona Bra Fence has been going robust for many years, although sometimes pissing off locals sufficient that they rip all of them off through the evening just for them to reappear shortly.

Our native cinema, Cinema Paradiso, has cozy chairs, couches, and even a convertible automobile for watching the most recent movies. Throughout intermission, additionally they serve freshly baked cookies. Puzzling World is a bizarre and beloved native attraction crammed with optical illusions, deceptively laborious mazes, and different deceptively laborious puzzles. We even have a toy museum. 

Lengthy dwell small, eccentric cities!

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

10. The clearest night skies

Lastly, considered one of my favourite issues about residing in Wanaka needs to be our clear evening skies. Nonetheless distant in comparison with the remainder of the world, we’ve little gentle air pollution in and round Wānaka. Because of this on clear nights, the celebrities are unbelievable—even on the town. 

You may step outdoors your private home at evening and see the Milky Method. And in the event you’re fortunate, we frequently have the aurora or Southern Lights dancing on the horizon.

Properly rattling. Scripting this simply made me fall in love with Wānaka another time!

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka

living in Wanaka



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