Sit awhile on the willow-fringed shoreline in Wanaka township and soak up the view. Crystal clear waters lap the pebbly shore and take on a deep blue hue further out, dramatically reflecting a dozen snow-capped peaks in the Mt Aspiring National Park.

Lake Wanaka enjoys an incomparable setting. The national park, centred on the striking triangular peak of Mt Aspiring, has 100 glaciers and countless rock ridges and snowy summits. The township has the intimate feel of a village where you can relax for a few days. If you seek adventure, it’s right here on your doorstep, and you can be sure of a fine restaurant for dinner.

The essence of Wanaka is its pristine environment and the overwhelming feeling of space and freedom. While the lakeshore views have appeal, the real highlights come from the mountain tops. Just east of town is Mt Iron, the most accessible highpoint. This glacier-sculpted monolith provides a great panorama of the lake and town. Even more impressive is the Mt Roy Track zig-zagging up to the 1,581 metre summit that takes in the entire region – lakes and mountains as far as the eye can see.

The Matukituki Valley road past beautiful Glendhu Bay opens up other visual opportunities. Diamond Lake Track leads up to Rocky Hill for stunning lake views, and Treble Cone Ski-field, across the valley, is a photographer’s nirvana, bringing Mt Aspiring in close view with a telephoto lens. From the Raspberry Creek car park at the end of the valley, more tracks lead to alpine huts, that give dress circle views of the splendid Mt Aspiring summit soaring skywards in classical beauty – a symphony of visual pleasure. The mountain deserves its title of ‘the Matterhorn of the South.’

You will love Lake Wanaka and its friendly village atmosphere. Compared with the commercial scene in Queenstown, 100 km away, this resort is quiet and understated – except for the scenery, which is truly outstanding.