We have always been in love with travel and photography blog, Citizens of the World. Their fresh approach to destinations and their stunning visual journals are an inspiration to travellers and photographers. We were thrilled then when Meghan and Dominic, the uber-stylish husband and wife creative force behind COTW, shared their insider tips (and amazing images) on exploring Wanaka on New Zealand’s south island – where to eat, shop, drink and unwind.
BK: When /how did you first discover Wanaka?
COTW: We were very fortunate to have the beautiful people at Wanaka discover us first! We’d been to New Zealand once before and were invited back to see why this tiny town an hour from the bustle of Queenstown was stealing everybody’s hearts.
BK: What do you love most about Wanaka?
COTW: There’s a wildness about it you can’t find in Queenstown (just because Queenstown is quite built up now). Wanaka is a small village but balances these truly epic mountain vistas and off-the-grid hikes with brilliant bars, restaurants and food trucks.
BK: How do you feel when you visit Wanaka – is this an adventure destination, a foodie haunt, somewhere you can relax…?
COTW: It’s an adventure paradise for those who aren’t afraid of a good hike or a leap into a crystal clear blue rockpool. If you just want to relax and hide away from the world, this is where we’d tell you to come. Rent a villa and while away your days eating local South Island produce and drinking wine overlooking the lake.
Just talking about it is making us want to go…
There’s a wildness about Wanaka you can’t find in Queenstown
BK: What would be your five essential items to pack for a holiday in Wanaka?
COTW: Hiking boots, an easy to carry fleece, sunglasses, sunscreen and maybe a change of nice clothes to wear out after a day exploring.
If you just want to relax and hide away from the world, this is where we’d tell you to come
BK: What are your insider tips on where to eat, drink, listen to live music, shop and unwind in Wanaka?
COTW: Kai Whakapai on Ardmore Street is great for lunch and brunch but the best times to drop down is late afternoon when they usually have a guitarist playing. Sit outside with a beer and watch the sunset over the water. Brilliant.
Another great place to finish the day and take in excellent views is Alchemy Wanaka (http://www.alchemywanaka.nz/).
Hunt down The White House restaurant on Dunmore Street. You won’t miss this art deco gem. Inside it’s warm and comforting with a fireplace in winter and a charming courtyard for summer evenings.
Gifted Design Store for a great collection of New Zealand and Australian designed goods.
BK: What have you not yet done / seen in Wanaka that you hope to next time?
COTW: The Rob Roy Glacier track is a must-do. For some reason we always seem to miss it whenever we’re in town. Maybe we do it to have an excuse to return…
We recommend everyone who goes to Wanaka to see the guys at Eco Wanaka Adventures – who will take you on a Jurassic Park-style journey across Mou Wahou Island (one of the world’s most pristine bird sanctuaries). The guides speak with so much reverence and passion that you can’t help but stand in awe at the work they do conserving the nesting grounds for the rare birds that call this part of the world home.
BK: How did COTW come to fruition?
COTW: Dominic and I (Meghan) are both professionals in our chosen fields (writing and photography). Dom wanted a place to showcase the thousands of images he takes when he travels, I craved having a creative outlet out of my job. Thus COTW was born and it’s been a weird and wonderful road to where we are now.
BK: Do the two of you feel you’re ‘living the dream’ – what do you love most about what you do?
COTW: Sometimes we do! But it’s important for us to flag that COTW is a passion and a job for us. For every day we spend outside in nature capturing beautiful destinations, there are just as many days sitting in the office writing stories, having meetings and editing.
BK: Describe a typical ‘day in the life’ for the two of you
COTW: 5.30am: Up and at ‘em thanks to our new puppy, Biscuit. We take her for a walk and we have a coffee and talk about what each of us have on the agenda for the day.
6.30am: Get home around 6.30am and eat avocado on toast while reading the news headlines and freak out about the Trump presidency for a few minutes.
7am: Start answering emails. We are trying to not work from the inbox as much as possible these days so we make sure we stop this at 9am and close the email completely so we don’t get distracted (this doesn’t always work out).
From there it’s a sea of concepting projects for clients, writing stories, uploading stories, editing photos. There’s a lot of back end things that people don’t see (and we wouldn’t really want them to) that goes into making it look like we’re ‘living the dream’.
We try to finish up around 6pm to take Biscuit for walk (and a debrief about the day).
This is when we’re at home in Sydney. When we’re travelling it’s non-stop sunrise to sunset. We sometimes joke that being home is ‘holiday’ time to just unwind and catch up on life-admin.