Blogger and photographer Sophie Piearcey spends a magical evening in Lake Hāwea.
“I didn’t know how much there was to do here, I thought we just used this road as a drive-through to the West Coast” exclaimed my adventure-loving husband as he took his third dive bomb off the rock into Lake Hāwea from the seclusion of our own private little cove.
2021 is about new adventures, supporting local, getting out there, and having a damn good time at every chance you get, are you with me New Zealand? Good. I am telling you now, there is so much to do here in Lake Hāwea and we jumped at the chance to explore somewhere new, again.
Summer finally arrived here in New Zealand and wow, did she come with a bang. This weekend we got hit with 30 degree lake days, warm enough that jumping into a glacially-fed lake is the only option to cool down and we were definitely not complaining about it.
Lake Hāwea is an easy 15-minute scenic drive from Wanaka, on the road to Makarora and the West Coast. Here you will find the bluest lake, the most beautiful mountains, and a little pocket of adventure that is often overlooked. Hāwea is a local outdoor adventure paradise. You can boat, swim, kayak, ride, walk, surf (yes surf! more on that later), and laze in the summer sun on the beach. One of my favourite ever day hikes is right here in Hāwea, Isthmus Peak. A challenging 6-hour hike with the most epic reward.
We arrived at Lake Hāwea early morning and checked in to our accommodation for the evening. The Camp, formerly known as the Lake Hāwea Holiday Park is your next camping destination. Accommodation includes caravans, campervans, tents, cabins, and our humble abode for the evening, the Denver tents.
The staff greeted us with the biggest smiles, genuinely stoked to show us around their ever-developing property, and kindly walked us down to our tent. The Denver, Colorado Tents in Denver Cove are the perfect getaway destination for couples, friends, or just a night for you. The glamping setup offers uninterrupted views of the lake and mountains, a mess tent to prepare food, and access to a secret cove where rock jumping and lake swimming is a must!
As we approached the tent and I saw the king-sized bed and homely details my heart did a little happy dance. It was modern, yet rustic, beautiful, and comfortable. Everything you need for a home away from home. We settled in and admired the views, that was until 2.5 seconds later Robbie hit the water for his first of many swims. We meandered down to the next bay and took the old school wooden canoe for a spin on the lake. It was still and calm. The water so pure you could see the bottom and the early morning sun warmed up our bodies for a day of adventure in Hāwea.
After an hour of balancing in the canoe together, one near capsize, and time spent floating into the morning light we slowly paddled back to shore to fuel up for our next adventure.
A quick drive out of Hāwea led us to Rik, the proud owner of LandEscape here in Hāwea. We also met Juliet, his wife, and a very loveable doggo. Before embarking one our first ever ebike adventure, we sat down with Rik & Juliet to learn about what they are doing here in Hāwea and Wanaka, and I tell you, if we didn’t have plans I would have sat here all day listening to his wonderful mission for renewable, sustainable tourism here in New Zealand.
I tell you something, they have a bold vision and if it comes to life I will be behind it 100% of the way. Think hot tubs, renewable energy, buildings built into the landscape, and a chance for people to immerse themselves in stunning surroundings all while learning a little about the renewable energy based systems powering their experience. This 300-acre property, overlooking Lake Hāwea is without a doubt the perfect setting for this grand venture.
It’s an idea that has to start somewhere and that somewhere is perched high on the saddle of a YouMo ebike, built for explorers who are keen for an adventure… with a little assistance. We jumped on the bikes and off we went, my yelps of excitement had Juliet run to the door to watch as two virgin ebikers set off on their Lake Hāwea riverside trail mission. We quickly toured the property with Rik, he showed us all the hot tub sites and where his plans will come to life, and off on our merry way we went.
We hit the trail. Did you know that right out of Rik’s gate is a network of trails that lead you to Luggate and Wanaka, back down to Hāwea, and loop tracks galore? The world really is your oyster on an eBike! We cycled past the wave, a manmade surfing and whitewater wave on the river, we watched as kids attempted to surf and others just took a boogie board to the face, entertainment for all.
A slow ride took us down the Hāwea River Trail, ending at the lake and back to camp. We pushed the bike speed to 33km - that’s right, ya girl got up to 33km on a river trail dodging rabbits, racing Robbie, and managing to stay upright the whole time!
An ice block was most definitely deserved, as was another swim at our private little cove back at the Camp. We parked up just in time for our food truck delivery. On-site at the Camp, you will find a little food truck churning out the most delicious pizzas, fish and chips, burgers, and a breakfast menu too! They also have proper barista made coffee - hurrah for those who can’t stand the instant stuff that people insist on bringing on camping trips.
We indulged on a cheese grazing platter and a freshly made wood-fired mushroom pizza and damn… both so delicious. When staying in the Denver tents the crew will deliver your meals to your tent porch. Honestly, the perfect way to have dinner while sipping on a glass of rose watching the sun disappear over the mountains.
After filling up on food truck goodness it was time to make the 5km ride back to Rik’s pad for an evening hot tub. Now, it might have been the pizza, it may have been the glass of rose or it may be that we are now eBike pros, but I'm telling you that we made it back to LandEscape in record time.
A private, wood-fired hot tub overlooking the mountains of Lake Hāwea and Wanaka awaited. We had champagne on ice, (fancy I know…) and all the time we wanted. Rik showed us the tub, how to add some more wood, and left us to relax - and relax, we did! I think we clocked out after three hours, that was after Robbie added more wood and nearly boiled us out of the tub. We watched the sunset turn to dusk and the night sky appear, with zero light pollution the night sky here is truly magical.
Settling in for the night back at our Denver tent after the most relaxing evening was absolute bliss, we clambered into that big ol’ king sized bed and laid awake under the fairy lights chatting away for hours. We fell asleep to the sound of the rain gently hitting the canvas roof and it sent me right through until morning. I must have been in such a state of relaxation that I forgot to switch out the lights, lucky for me the whole cast of A Bug's Life decided to make an appearance in the tent overnight keeping me entertained in the morning as I tried to clean up and pack to leave, reluctantly I might add.
Before departing camp we made a pit stop at the food truck for a good cup of joe and some brekky. I went for homemade granola, delicious. Robbie had a salmon bagel that I barely got time to take a photo of before he demolished it, reports back are delicious too. We also checked out the new areas of the camp, events space, a cottage, and some super cool new dome tents – don’t worry I already put my name down to grab one of those upon completion.
What a magical time away right here in our epic backyard. Lake Hāwea, you provided the best active adventure weekend filled with laughs, beautiful views, and enough relaxation to keep us going until our next escape.