Sophie Luther’s Insider Guide to Wanaka New Zealand

Lake Wanaka New Zealand
Photo: Lake Wanaka Tourism

British expat, Sophie Luther, moved to the lakeside ski town of Wanaka in New Zealand’s South Island for her dream job. Little did she know, it was only the beginning. 

Why Wanaka

My partner and I have always loved Wanaka and it was a dream come true to move here as General Manager of Sales and Marketing for Treble Cone. Two years later and I’m now working as the Media Manager for the Audi Quattro Winter Games and loving it.

I love the spectacular scenery of the Wanaka region but I also love all the activities we can do on our door step. Of course, the snow is a big draw for me but also that I can ride my bike throughout the year here.

I can be snowboarding up the mountains in the morning and then be in Sticky Forest riding in the afternoon, then out on the Lake for a paddle in the evening. What more could you want? And with a young child I can’t wait for her to get into everything with us that Wanaka can offer.

I come from London so the fact that she will be going skiing once a week when at school blows my mind. I was lucky to go to the pool.

Favourite run

I love hiking up to the Summit rocks of Treble Cone and after getting over the breathtaking views, launching myself off the top. Bucket list thing to do for anyone.

Tori Beattie at Treble Cone pic by Hugo Pekham

Powder day

That is a hard one. We are very lucky to have a few amazing choices here, surrounded by five ski fields all with very different terrain to offer. Cardrona Alpine Resort is awesome on a POW day and so much fun with some secret spots which are well worth finding. And with their move into Soho Basin powder choices will get even better in years to come, with every sort of terrain on offer.

Best après

I love love love Rhyme and Reason Brewery. It’s a craft beer brewery in the industrial part of town which has their, yummy local beers on tap, chilled atmosphere and on Saturday’s the most amazing food trucks. My favourite is MORSEL HONEST FOOD CO’s curry night, it is epic.

Rhyme Reason Wanaka
Rhyme Reason Wanaka

Best dining

Federal Diner and Fedeli. Fresh homemade food, the noodle salad is off the chain, great coffee by Rob, sustainable thinking and fantastic service. What more could you want? 

Must do snow activity

You have to try Cross country skiing up at Snow Farm as a must do. And then staying out at their Meadow Hut with mates and lots and lots of great food and wine. 

Best coffee

Again another hard one as I am very partial to coffee and we have so many fabulous baristas here in town but I would have to say Chev from Relishes Café on Wanaka Lake front.

But I will now be murdered by Rob at Fedeli who I get my See Crow Fly beans for home from and Fedeli’s world famous date scones, oh and can’t not mention the lovely ladies from Double Black in Albert Town.

Best breakfast

The breakfast burrito at the Burito Craft truck before heading up the hill. Perfect!!

Favourite non ski activity

Mountain Biking hands down. I am Eddie the Eagle of mountain biking, as in I am not very good but I give it a bloody good go.

I love to ride in Sticky Forest but you will also see me up Cardrona Alpine Resort in the summers blatting around on their tracks. They even couldn’t stop me riding there when I was pregnant.

I just love that you can pop up there after work on a Friday and go for a few runs with my mates and then go for a burger and a beer after up the mountain in The Lounge. Can’t ask for a better start to a summer weekend.

Where do you take visitors to impress them?

Mount Aspiring Park is a winner. Taking them for a walk up into the wilderness always impresses and even the drive just wows them. But let’s face it all of the South Island had a wow factor for pretty much any tourist.

Where would you take a date?

Sticky Forest – my partner and I regularly have date rides there and then we park up at the bench overlooking the Lake. Then head to Rhyme and Reason before picking up our daughter – our sort of date.

Best activity for families

I take my baby on walks and hikes all around the place. My favourite is Diamond Lake and is totally doable with a baby in a front pack. Or Mount Iron gives you great views of Wanaka and is right in town so you can do it on your lunch break.

Shopping

We have some amazing shops in Wanaka with some original and stylish gifts. My favourite is Gifted on the Main Street.

Favourite local character

Oh I couldn’t choose there are so many amazing characters here in Wanaka. Without sounding sycophantic there are some very inspirational women and men who are doing great things here in all fields.

My boss Marty Toomey the CEO of Audi quattro Winter Games NZ. What he is doing with our event going annual, building on past sucesses and some big and inspiring plans on the horizon for this year and years to come.

Or Bridget Legnavsky and the way she is developing her team culture at Cardrona Alpine Resort and nurturing her staff progression. There are lots of people to grow from and a very exciting future for Wanaka and the region.

Check out the Audi Quattro Winter Games from August 24 to September 8.

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

Share your thoughts