Central Otago is one of New Zealand’s great tourist destinations. Lakes, rivers and majestic mountains are the attraction and all offer gentle to extreme sports opportunities including heli and cross-country skiing, jet boat and jet ski riding. Plus climbing. Along the way there are temptations such as some of the country’s best wines, luscious stone fruits and numerous artisan food products.
Queenstown is the most popular with overseas tourists but Wanaka comes a close second and is enjoyed more by Kiwis on holiday.
My husband and I relished some Wanaka R&R recently. Any time is an awesome time to visit. Here are some of our faves from our visit.
Where we ate:
WGK (Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen), 123 Ardmore Street, Wanaka, (03) 443 8579, www.wgk.co.nzOwners: Dale and Wendy Bowie. Open: Tuesday-Saturday 6-10pm,Sunday 6-9pm.
Located in the centre of Wanaka township, WGK has great lake views, is fully licensed and air conditioned and the owners love meeting and talking with you about food.
A must-try is their signature dish, Te Mana slow-roasted lamb shoulder — enough for two hungry people and oh so mouth-watering. Served on a sizzling plate, it is accompanied by roasted veg, cabbage and bacon, mint jelly and a lamb jus. But leave room also for their divine desserts.
Florences Food Store & Cafe, cnr Orchard & Cardrona Roads (03) 443 7078
www.florencesfoodstore.co.nz Open: 7 days 8:30am- 3:30pm
Florences Food Store & Café is on the outskirts of Wanaka, set in a delightful Heritage Park. It offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Ready-to-go frozen meals, artisan bread, free-range eggs, Florence’s branded oproducts, local and imported groceries and picnic hampers are also available.
Where we stayed:
Suite 51, 9 Penny Lane, Wanaka, (03) 443 2197 www.suite51wanaka.com
Owners: Richard & Bev Johnstone
This purpose-built B&B opened in August 2015 and is situated in a quiet cul-de-sac very close to the lake, Old Station Park and is within walking distance of the CBD. Off-street parking is available.
There are two suites offering stylish accommodation — and a charming garden in which to relax. Each suite has a bedroom, bathroom and a living room with a TV and fridge which Bev fills with breakfast goodies. There is also a microwave, toaster and tea and coffee making facilities.
Bev is a wonderful cook and there is always surprise bakes awaiting you. She speaks fluent French and gained her Diploma of Foreign Languages at the Sorbonne University in Paris. She also speaks German having also studied and worked in Germany.
What we did:
Cardrona Distillery, 2125 Cadrona Valley Road, ph (03) 443 1393, www.ccardronadistillery.com
Architecturally designed and built of local schist, the buildings are state-of-the art. Award-winning gin, vodka or whiskey are on offer.
Wine Tours, www.wanakawinetours.com
The best way to enjoy the local vintages is for someone else to drive you. There are dozens of top class wineries in the Central Otago region. Several are close to Wanaka — Rippon is right on the lake and within walking distance of Suite 51.
Please visit www.lakewanaka.com and enjoy an informative and stunning website.
BEV JOHNSTONE’S CHOCOLATE CAKE
Line the cake pan with baking paper, if preferred.
3 tablespoons golden syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups milk
3 cups flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Place the butter, golden syrup, sugar and 1 cup of milk a medium saucepan and heat until the butter is melted. Cool.
Mix the flour and cocoa in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled butter mixture. Dissolve the baking soda in the remaining milk and add to the bowl. Mix well.
Pour into a large greased pan, about 23cm x 34cm.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool, then spread with chocolate icing and sprinkle with chopped nuts.