Lost In Wanaka.

Nothing really prepares you for the majesty of New Zealand's South Island.

It’s one part Tolkiennovel, one part Norwegian fiordand sprinkled with the spirit of Kia ora.

Just an hour up the road from the breathtaking hub of Queenstown is the little known tiny and perfect town of Wanka.

It's like the Byron Bayof the south: a touch alternative, totally chill, breathtakingly beautiful but full of everything the bigger, flashier towns hasve to offer.

It's a best kept secret that's become the destination of choice for royalty and rock stars.

There's no better time to head there than right now. Even for the weekend.

Seriously. Here's what I did with 48 hours in one of the prettiest places on the planet.

Wanaka Must-Do’s.

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Wanaka is a little town that offers A LOT and changes the offering with each season.

It’s one of the few places where you can ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon. No matter what adventure you’re looking for you’ll find it within half an hour of the town.

Everything is doable, easy and stress free.

For the most comprehensive information about everything from accomodation and skiing to food and weddings, head to  www.lakewanaka.co.nz

Ski At Cardrona.

Located in the heart of the Southern Alps, Cadrona Alpine Resort is a just a short drive from Wanaka town and like all the ski fields on the South Island you need to drive or shuttle in.

The roads to the top are steep but once you park your car this is a mega efficient mountain.

From the ski hire and lift tickets to food and amenities – for some reason Cadrona Alpine Resort manages to take all the drama out of ski prep and lets you concentrate on the snow.

More intermediate than beginner – the mountains offers well-maintained runs complete with epic scenery and somehow it never feels too over-crowded.

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For me, the mark of the mountain is in french fries  (and schnapps) and these golden sticks of goodness from Mezz Cafe were perfection.

There’s a kids club, ski school and SO much snow! For more information, head to www.cadrona.com

The Chefs Table At Rippon Winery

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Suddenly you’re an extra in Lord Of The Rings.

And in my case actually dressed for it.

Rippon Winery is one of the oldest and most famous wineries in New Zealand and an absolute must to visit.

For just five weeks each winter (so now), the winery opens The Chefs Table Pop Up Restaurant which allows you to eat dishes made from local produce, drink incredible wine and watch the colours change against the lake.

And if you’re thinking of getting married in New Zealand then look no further.

It’s heaven on Middle (Earth).

Rippon Winery Chefs Table is open six days (closed Mondays) from 4pm for après-ski drinks and dinner.

For reservations,  email pop-up@rippon.co.nz or call + 21 152 9707

 Cadrona Distillery.

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At the foot of mountains, just below Cadrona Alpine Resort (and halfway betweenLake Wanaka and Queenstown) you’ll find The Cardrona Distillery.

A family owned business that specialises in hand-crafted vodka, gin and a special cherry liquor.  All the products have cool names and even cooler bottles and have one global awards for purity and design.

Cardrona Distillery.is open 9.30 -5pm everyday and the guided tours through the state of the art facility are well worth the stop.

This is the slickest alcohol you’ll every buy.

The Source made the best Gin & Tonic I’ve ever had.

For more information head to www.cadronadistillery.com

CLICK TO BUY: The Source Gin, $120

That Tree.

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Few trees are as famous as the graceful old willow that sits in the middle of the Lake Wanaka.

In fact it has it’s own hashtag – #ThatWanakaTree

The unofficial symbol of the town, the Wanaka Tree is literally rises from the water of the lake which means its lower branches are often covered by the water.

But…on the right da,y at the right time you’ll never see anything more haunting than this special shape set against the sky.

Scenes like this are why painters paint.

Lake Wanaka is full of epic photo moments. A guide to the best of them  – HERE

 Ski At Treble Cone.

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Treble Cone is the South Island’s largest ski area and is famous for long (and they’re loooong) challenging runs and astounding views over Lake Wanaka

If you’re not a skier, you can take the scenic chairlift up to the top for a cup of snow covered coffee at the TwelveSixty Coffee Hut.

I mean look at this. There aren’t enough adjectives…

If you’re a great skiier then you will adore this place. It’s all blue and black runs with lots of off-piste areas that wind down the mountain.

If you’re a true beginner you might want to hang out on the flats.

Tthis ski field attracts some of the most qualified instructors in the world, who spend half the year in Switzerland and then follow the snow to Treble Cone.

So if you ever wanted a private lesson, this is your mountain.

To plan your trip, head to www.treblecone.com

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The Custard Scrolls.

Don’t ever say I don’t help a sister out.

Head to Relish Cafe in the town centre and I promise you’ll dream about its fluffy goodness for the rest of your life.

Relishes Cafe, 1/99 Ardmore Street, Wanaka (+64 3 443 9018)

 Breakfast On Mt Aspiring.

If you splurge on one thing in Wanaka make it a helicopter flight to the top of Mt Aspiring for breakfast at Whare Kea Chalet.

Nothing prepares you for the majesty of flying through the snow covered canons and glaciers and landing on top of the world.

And nothing compares to it either.

Whare Kea Chalet is literally an oasis in the sky – 1750 metres above sea level –   with 360 degree views of Mount Cook and the National Park.

When you are walking around on virgin snow surrounded by only mountains it’s like being in Frozen.

I was Elsa and I did sing THAT song.

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Aspiring Helicopters will tailor your Chalet experience. We had breakfast and watched the world wake-up but you can stay overnight, have dinner or even get married on the mountain.

This experience was truly one of the most special things I’ve ever done in my life. I’m not a fan of helicopter flights but this one was somehow different. I felt safe and exhilarated.

For more information head to www.aspringhelicopters.co.nz

TravelPaula Joye