New Year’s does not have to be spent shivering outside waiting for a ball to drop or a clock to strike 12. It can be spent outdoors around a campfire ending another gorgeous spring day, if you choose to mark the New Year in the Southern Hemisphere. One booming resort town that welcomes revelers from around the globe can be found on the southern tip of Lake Wanaka in New Zealand. Wanaka, the town, offers a wide range of activities for daytime fun and a full complement of luxury accommodations, shops, bars and restaurants to keep tourists occupied at night as well.
Growing rapidly due to immigration, Wanaka blends a unique combination of small town warmth and the sort of accommodations associated with world class resorts. The town is surrounded by mountains that beckon both the locals and all on holiday to hike and camp. The lake covers 193 square kilometres and is a favorite spot for numerous activities, from jet boating to sailing, from kayaking to waterskiing, all of which are possible during even the last week of the year in New Zealand. In the hills and mountains that ring the lake in picturesque fashion, tourists try canyoning, climbing and even skydiving. Others fish the lake’s waters with success before scouring the town for its noted bars and restaurants.
Wanaka also abuts Mount Aspiring National Park, a vast wilderness area that plays host to all sorts of outdoor activities. After exploring the park, many tourists spend the evening in town, and it’s an easy walk to shops and restaurants from most accommodations. Taxis and bikes are also readily available for in-town excursions, but if you want to explore more of the cultural richness and rugged beauty of South Island, you should rent a car to ensure maximum flexibility in your schedule. Car rental can be done both at the airport and in Wanaka, but many travelers find hiring a car in nearby cities such as Christchurch of Queenstown can also work well. Omega Car Rental Christchurch offers a wide variety of quality rental cars in either the Christchurch CBD or at the airport.
This New Year’s will fall at the start of Wanaka’s annual Summer Daze, a month-long festival of fun that will provide a wide menu of choices for those who can stay in town even a few more days into 2012. The New Year’s Eve celebrations in Wanaka will feature live music and a dazzling fireworks display. A fantastic line-up of bands and groups including The Station Agents and Mercury Crowe will help to get Wanaka in the party mood on the Ardmore Street waterfront.
On the second day of 2012, the Wanaka Rodeo will be held on the Rodeo Club Grounds. There’s nothing like a rodeo in New Zealand, with fun for the entire family and excellent food to boot. The next day, January 3, will mark the Southern Muster Frontrunner Sky Run and Outside Sports Sky Ride, a race of varying distances from 5K to half-marathon as well as one- and six-hour mountain bike challenges. Thousands of dollars worth of prizes will be on the line during the race, held at Snow Farm in the Cardrona Valley.
Other events during the first week of January include an alluring Kite Making Workshop and Wanaka’s weekly craft and farmers and gardeners markets. Whether you choose to party and recover indoors or celebrate the New Year outdoors, followed up by a brisk run and bike race, you will find opportunities to spend a unique holiday in Wanaka, New Zealand.