Our next stop was Wanaka, a small lakeside town in the Queenstown Lakes District. On the way there from Te Anau we drove through wildly popular and buzzing Queenstown, and were glad that we’d decided to base ourselves in Wanaka instead.
Wanaka is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park (or Isengard, for LOTR fans). Our morning drive into the park featured (as usual) beautiful mountains, rivers, and waterfalls, and lots of domesticated animals, including, to our surprise, deer. We didn’t get very far, unfortunately, as the route required fording a number of streams, and we didn’t want to risk any problems with our small rental car.
In the afternoon, with rain threatening, we visited Warbirds and Wheels, a private museum featuring impressive collections of classic cars and historic fighting aircraft. The museum was completely accessible.
The next day was very rainy, but we checked out Highland Motorsports Park (very luxe, but kind of deserted), and a couple of wineries near Cromwell, Mt. Difficulty and Carrick. We topped the day off at Wanaka’s famous Cinema Paradiso, where the audience sits on old sofas and you can buy freshly baked chocolate chip cookies during intermission.