Just 55 km (37 miles) or an hour-and-a-half by road north of Queenstown, the small town of Wanaka has long lived in its shadow, but in recent years, stylish and careful development has made this the preferred destination for many New Zealanders. The dramatic, jagged peaks of the Southern Alps reflect in the waters of the lake, making an impressive backdrop, especially in autumn when the forests round the shore turn a myriad of golds and shimmering reds. Small aircraft and boats now allow visitors of all ages and abilities to explore the heart of this World Heritage Area.
After qualifying as a lawyer, Christopher worked in the City of London for a number of years before succumbing to his passion for travel. An overland expedition across Africa was followed by several years of co-ordinating trips and guiding in Europe, Africa and Asia. Subsequently, he joined a leading long-haul tour operator, concentrating on itineraries to New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific, and joined Audley Travel when the Australasia programme was launched in 2005.
Christopher has made several trips to New Zealand, Australia, The Cook Islands, Fiji and French Polynesia, where he has visited many of Audley's preferred properties and experienced a wide variety of our most popular activities.
Chris took up cycling again in 2013 after a bike ride in Nelson Bay rekindled his love for his first sporting passion. More recently, Chris fulfilled a long-held ambition and heli-cycled on the mountains around Wanaka, negotiating snow, ice and rivers on one remarkable day.
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There are many iconic views in New Zealand but that along the shores of Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook is one of the most spectacular and I will never forget catching a glimpse of the Aoraki Ranges covered in snow from here on my first visit in 2013. My hosts made me incredibly welcome and provided dinner on the first night, which I was not expecting and which all added to the experience. From the birdlife and flowers around the lake to the trails in and around Lake Tekapo and in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, this is my favourite base from which to view and explore the high alps and enjoys better weather in the lee of the peaks sheltered from the west coast storms and cloud even in winter.
I'll never forget when…
I first visited Mount Cook National Park at the end of a very long and tiring five-week tour of New Zealand. I’d seen all the most magnificent landscapes, tried the world-class food and wine, and flown over the peaks and valleys of the North and South Islands to such an extent that it would have been easy for this region to disappoint. To my surprise, the country saved its greatest display until last. There is only one large hotel in the park, but the view of Mount Cook under a full moon, seen from its wing rooms is my most memorable from a hotel anywhere in the world. I had to pinch myself every time I opened the curtains. The glacier valley walks and scenic flights are a superb bonus, but on a fine day just sit on the café balcony and wonder at the striking views.