Insider guide to Wanaka: Camilla Stoddart

Adventure photographer Camilla Rutherford (nee Stoddart) first fell in love with Wanaka in 2001 and has permanently resided in Wanaka for the past five years. Recently married to the region (literally) she now calls New Zealand home. This is her Insider Guide.

I moved here for the snow initially. I grew up in Scotland and after I finished school, I went in search of southern hemisphere snow and came across Wanaka.

I had never heard of the place before, but it sounded cool so I jumped on a plane, a fresh faced 18yr old to the other side of the world. Little did I know it would end up being my home.

Why Wanaka?

The mountains, the lake and the like minded people that live here. Cliche I know, but it’s the friends I’ve made in this wee town that clinched the deal for me, the environment we live in here plays a huge part too. We all love getting out and about when ever we can, adventuring and exploring. I think Wanaka has the lowest rate of My Sky subscribers in the whole country! That’s saying something….

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Best place for coffee?

Relishes on the lake front. You can sit outside, sip on a flat white while looking at the lake and the mountains… Bliss.

Best place for apres?

Kai Whaka Pie, also on the lake front. Same mountain views, sunny spot and often some live music playing. Great atmosphere for a local beer, try a Brewski, but be warned, a couple of these and you will be ready for a party!

Best place for breakfast?

Federal Diner on Helwick Street. Fed, as its known by the locals, is a awesome wee cafe, tucked in behind the awesome fashion shop 47 Frocks (so you can go for a cheeky wee look through the wicked store on your way in, wallets beware!) so it can be easily missed if you are not in the know. Well worth finding though!

My fav dish at Fed is the Hawea Flat. Portabella mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes on a polenta cake. Yummo.

Special occasion dinner spot?

For a romantic dinner head to Bistro Gentil on Golf Course Road. Another place slightly off the beaten track. Its above the golf course and has amazing views over the lake and mountains. Its got some amazing wines, a gourmet menu and is great for a special treat both lunch and dinner.

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Favourite event during the season?

The big mountain section The North Face Freeski Open would have the be the best event to watch. Its usually held in the Motatapu shoots at Treble Cone and you can watch as skiers chose the most incredible lines to ski and huck some big cliffs.

This is just one part of the Freeski Open with half pipe and slope style if you fancy watching some amazing park skiing. The event is usually full of after parties in Wanaka, usually with some wicked bands playing.

Where do you take out of town visitors to WOW them?

If skiing, I would take them to Treble Cone and ski them over to the Matukituki Valley. This is a secret bowl with awesome fun terrain and the view from here will blow your mind. It is such a great wow factor when you take people over there for the first time!

In town I would take them to Penrith Bay at sunset. You can sit on the beach, sipping a few beers and watch the sun go down over Black Peak and Treble Cone. It is only five minutes drive from town.

Secret powder stash or favourite run in the region?

I wouldnt tell you my secret powder stash would I!? Hehe. You can’t beat hiking the summit at Treble Cone on a powder day. It is a short ten minute hike and you get the most breathtaking views over the back of Treble Cone and fresh tracks all the way down.

Can’t beat it, but don’t wait around too long, it gets tracked pretty quick!

Where do you ski the most during winter and why?

Treble Cone, did you not guess yet?? Because it’s epic! Ive been skiing that mountain for thirteen years (gosh that makes me feel old) and I’m still not bored of it even though there are only two chair lifts, these lifts give you access to the best terrain in NZ in my humble opinion.

Your favourite Wanaka local character?

Blizzard the Aspiring Avalanche rescue dog (boarder collie). She has been at Treble Cone for as long as I can remember, on hand to find you if the worst should happen.

Aspiring Avalanche Dogs is a fantastic organisation run by Matt Gunn, a patroller at Treble Cone. These guys are heroes in my book and deserve any donations and support you can give.

What can you get at Wanaka you can’t get anywhere else in the world?

Wanaka Pure Ice cream

If you had to buy one thing to take back with you as a visitor to Wanaka what would it be?

A print from The Picture Lounge. Photographer Chris Thompson has some stunning photographs of Wanaka and the surrounds, as well as a few of my shots up there!

What is your favourite place to shoot in Wanaka?

Sunrise at Treble Cone would have to be the best. It is such stunning light up there first thing and you watch the sun rise over the Lake. I recommend it to anyone going up to ski TC, to get up early so you can see the sun rise over the mountains.

Are you heading to the snow in Australia or New Zealand the year? You need our Insider Guides from locals in the snow.

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Rachael is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN Freeskiing, TIME, Powderhound, Sydney Morning Herald, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast and more.

1 COMMENT

  1. Wanaka is my favourite NZ place. And I will be back there 8-15 August so look forward to ski at Treble Cone and Cardrona again! And I agree about the view from Treble. Also climb up to the summit rocks from the top of Saddle Lift and the view from there is out of the world! as for getting there for sunrise, well, I am not an early riser 🙂

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