Wanaka Wows LGBTQ Travellers

Caroline and Suzie in Wanaka
Caroline & Suzie

Meet Caroline and Suzie, our trusted LGBT locals in Wanaka.  They own and run Criffel Peak, a lovely B&B, a few minutes walk from the pubs, cafes, restaurants and waterfront of vibrant Wanaka. This South Island town of around 9,000 residents is funky, hip, and surrounded by incredible vistas. Caroline and Suzie are wonderful locals who will share all the great local secrets when you stay with them in Wanaka. I chatted with Suzie about how LGBTQ folks are treated in New Zealand and also why Wanaka is so appealing to LGBTQ travellers.

How is New Zealand in general for LGBTQ folks?

I think we’re more gay friendly here than most other countries. We have a lot more presence in the media with really good role models like Louisa May, our lesbian MP, and Tamati Coffey, the weather man – he’s a politician too now.  And Rainbow Youth is helping younger people too. There’s just more visibility. We used to live in Auckland, and it is very open, with pride, gay clubs and bars, so it’s more noticeable there.  When we moved to small town Wanaka we were warned that it would be different, but we were still very easily accepted even though there is not the same visibility.

Relaxing in Wanaka
Chillin’ in Wanaka

Why do you think New Zealand is so LGBTQ friendly?

Kiwis are very laid back. They judge you on your personality, if you don’t moan, but get stuck in and contribute. When people I meet for the first time ask about my husband, and I tell them I have a wife, they typically respond with, “Oh right, that’s lovely.” After we got married in 2014, many of the husbands of the women I golf with made a point of congratulating me the next time they saw me. It was so lovely! And the local B&B owners group we belong to were so excited to throw us a ‘Hen’s night’ before our wedding, with a chauffeur, gifts, drinks and food, just as any couple would receive.

Why Wanaka? What makes it a great destination for LGBTQ travellers?

For anyone who loves the outdoors, Wanaka is a fantastic destination. It has everything here. You can enjoy both soft and hard adventure, from easy activities up to everything adrenaline. Kayaking on the lake, climbing, the national park on our doorstep, vineyards, golf, skiing, hot and dry in summer, and cold and dry in winter. We both love the outdoors, we go skiing, hiking, golfing. We feel very fortunate to live here, it’s paradise. And we love sharing this paradise with our guests.

wanaka jet boat
Jetboat through remote wilderness valleys

There are several LGBT owned businesses here as well as an active lesbian community.  We get the local girls together for drinks and gatherings on a regular basis.

Also our food and vineyards are popular and world class. Wanaka, and New Zealand as a country, is hands down fantastic, because of our environment. Don’t wait! Come now and come as many times as you can while you’re able to make the most of it, as there is so much to do and you won’t be able to fit it all in.

wanaka vineyard
Vineyard bliss

Whenever we’re in Wanaka with our group trips, we try to hook up with Caroline and Suzie and their friends for a night with the locals. Come and hang out with us!

Doubtful Sound Wilderness – Rain or Shine

There are few places on earth that are so easily accessible, yet so wild, as Doubtful Sound. Rugged, remote, and lush with rainforest, this sound will take your breath away. Whether it’s pouring rain, or brilliant sunshine, Doubtful Sound never fails to deliver.

Spending an overnight in Doubtful Sound with Chris from Deep Cove Charters, a local who has spent his whole life in the sound, is an experience every visitor to New Zealand should not miss!  Completely disconnected from the rest of the world, the power and solitude of Fiordland enveloped us. Rather than dampening our trip, the rain added to the awe of this moody sound and provided a spectacular display of hundreds of waterfalls. We saw dophins, fur seals, penguins, and albatross. We fished, kayaked, and just breathed in the serenity and peacefulness of this exquisite wilderness. Chris pulled up crayfish for lunch, and we fished for dinner to accompany the venison previously hunted by Chris. At dusk We enjoyed a drink with new friends, discussed the privilege of being where we were, and were lulled to sleep by the sound of silence.
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The day after we left Doubttul Sound, my sister, her husband, and another couple spent three days kayaking and camping in the sound. Their weather couldn’t have been more different.

 

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doubtfulsound doubtfulreflectionWhether from the comfort of Chris’ boat, or roughing it in a kayak, Doubtful Sound is truly magic.