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Luxury New Zealand FEATURE
to some of the best skiing in Australasia. Indeed,
the area hosts many world-class European
skiers during the winter months, in the region
to keep up their training during the northern
off-season. For the same reason, Wanaka's superb
mountaineering makes it an off-season home for
a number of Everest guides.
If you prefer your pursuits to be more
leisurely, the region's famed food and wine will
be sure to keep you occupied. A day's tour
through the wine region is highly recommended,
with many drops only available from local cellar
doors. Pinot noir comprises 70 per cent of the
grape plantings in Central Otago, the region's
dry, cool climate perfect for the cultivation of
this notoriously tricky variety. If you're more
into whites, however, you shouldn't stop with the
celebrated sauvignon blanc -- there are many
other, unheralded varieties that are sure to please.
Our favourite was the crisp Gr ner Veltliner from
Bannock Brae. This little-known Austrian grape
has been garnering a bit more attention lately
because it pairs well with so many things, from
fish and lighter meat dishes to spicy curries.
In addition to its wine, the region is bursting
with magnificent produce. Local dairy products
are superb, from yoghurts and milks to a huge
array of cheeses. The famed Bluff oysters, grown
slowly in the cold, clean waters of Foveaux Strait,
are big, plump and juicy and absolutely fantastic.
Locally caught lobster, freshwater trout and an
array of seafood such as blue cod, salmon and
green-lipped mussels are all on offer.
And then there's the meat. As a die-hard
carnivore, I went from one happy meal to the
next. While Wanaka offers a wide range of
fine places to eat and drink, we found ourselves
enjoying many meals at The Dacha, its chef
producing some of the finest meals we had
enjoyed in a while. We breakfasted on local dairy
products and Central Otago's legendary stone
fruit (seen by many as nature's confectionary;
naturally clean and intensely flavoured cherries,
apricots, nectarines and peaches). In the evenings,
we dined on local beef, venison and, naturally,
lamb, washed down with the region's finest.
THINGS TO DO
For a quintessential New Zealand experience,
Wanaka has it all, and with the mountains and
lakes on your doorstep, The Dacha is the perfect
base from which to explore and experience the
best of Central Otago and the Queenstown-
Lakes District. Your biggest problem will be
deciding what to do each day... kayaking or
paddleboarding on the lake, mountain biking
and rock climbing, or just reading by the heated
lap pool with Lake Wanaka for company.
Whatever outdoor activity you're into,
regardless of your skill or level of bravery, there's
The Dacha is the perfect
base from which to explore...
something to suit everyone. The shoulder months
of March to May and September to November
offer warm days and cool nights -- perfect for
any number of land- and water-based activities.
There are numerous walking trails, ranging in
length from a few hours to days -- even weeks --
so you can tailor your hike to suit your fitness.
Most wonderfully, there is no risk of any deadly
creatures along the way -- no lethal snakes,
spiders, or super-nasty crawlies of any stripe.
We spent a couple of mornings walking along
Lake Wanaka (a two-minute drive from the house
and the fourth-largest lake in New Zealand)
towards the mouth of the Clutha River. It was
easy going, and a lovely introduction to this part
of the world. We also took the kayaks out on the
lake for a magical couple of hours. If you're keen,
the staff at The Dacha can pack a picnic, and
you can kayak to Ruby Island across the lake for
lunch. It's also possible to charter a boat to Mou
Waho island, a pest-free sanctuary to several types
of birds and insects gone from the mainland.
If you're after more high-adrenalin pursuits,
paraglide from the aptly named Remarkables
mountain range, walk the Wanaka waterfalls
on a wire, or skydive from a fixed-wing plane or
helicopter. New Zealand is also the home of the
first commercial bungy jump, opened in 1988
on the Kawarau bridge. The Nevis bungy is the
highest in NZ and is not for the faint hearted!
The concierge at The Dacha can discuss
activities with you, from mountain-bike riding to
heli-skiing, as well as handling the bookings. And,
if you're there in winter, it's just 30 minutes to
Treble Cone ski fields, widely regarded as home
The view from the terrace at The Dacha
(photography Nina Henderson).
Photography Nina Henderson.
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