A bed & breakfast is often a great way to experience life in a different country. While it may not be exactly the same as living like a local, the part where you actually get to stay with a local family definitely makes it a more genuine experience than staying at a conventional hotel. With this in mind, we planned to stay at a B&B during our stay in the South Island. After doing the usual research on various websites, we booked a couple of nights at the Avalanche B&B (also known as Wanaka B&B).
Initial selection: While this place was very highly ranked (#2) on Tripadvisor, the pricing was not astronomical. It was affordable, and the initial exchange of emails with the hosts Trish and Davey was quite cordial. During your research, I highly recommend interacting with the owners/hosts of any potential establishment, as it gives you a feel of what the people running the place are like.
Location: Avalanche B&B is not very close to Lake Wanaka. It is about 2km from the main lake area. This might be a good 20 minute walk, if you do not mind that kind of distance. But my suggestion would be to have a car or some sort of transport figured out, especially if you plan to go back and forth from the B&B to the town center (which you most probably will). Interestingly, this distance from the town center is actually a good thing, because you are away from the hustle and bustle of the increasing numbers of tourists descending upon Wanaka. You actually get the feel of living like a local at Avalanche because it is situated in a residential neighborhood. There is a farm next door with horses. There are also hills nearby which look stunning in the golden sunset light, while the famous Rippon vineyard is also quite close to Avalanche.
(farm next door and hills nearby)
(view from the backyard garden of Avalanche B&B)
(backyard garden with Poppy the dog)
(residential area on Bill’s Way, where Avalanche is located)
(golden sunset light)
Accommodation options: There are two options at this B&B that you can choose from, the Garden Suite (smaller) and the Avalanche Studio (larger). We opted for the Garden Suite. It has two rooms and a bathroom. One room is a bedroom and the other is a common room with a sofa, a table, couple of chairs, a fridge/food area, and television. The Avalanche Studio is a two storey accommodation, with a kitchen and barbeque grill downstairs and a bedroom upstairs. Both options have access to a garden area overlooking the hills and the neighbouring farm.
(sofa in one of the two rooms of Garden Suite)
(a table and tv in the Garden Suite)
(breakfast/snack area of the Garden Suite)
Views: The Garden Suite does not have a view from the bedroom, through there is a table and some chairs just outside the entrance door to the suite, from where you can get a view of the hills behind the property. You can also get an awesome view of the stars at night. The bedroom of the Avalanche studio will give you a view of the hills and the neighboring farm with horses.
(outdoor sitting area at the entrance of the Garden Suite)
(the two storey Avalanche Suite)
Service: This is the part which makes or breaks any B&B experience. I have to say, Trish (the host) goes over the top to ensure that you have a pleasant stay. The service is simply top notch, and this host family shows you the true “kiwi hospitality”. For instance, my wife does not eat eggs. So Trish looked up an eggless muffin recipe online and baked us eggless chocolate muffins (without us ever asking her to do so). She ensured that the fridge was always well stocked, and that all breakfast items were in place every day. She also guided us on various activities & sightseeing options. She will make bookings for you, and even make restaurant reservations. In fact, she has a folder of all the Wanaka-area restaurant menus at your table. She was kind enough to let us use her washer (there was no dryer) to wash some clothes, which we then hung out in open air on a clothesline in the garden. The Wifi was also great (the signals reach the outdoor garden area as well). The bathroom is stocked with local products made from kiwi ingredients.
(nicely designed jam bottles)
(all the snacks, cereals and muesli that you need)
(birds drink water here)
(the bathroom with heated towel rail)
(local Kiwi products stocked inside the bathroom)
Other things: There is a cute little dog named Poppy that runs around the house. All dog lovers will love her. But even if you do not like dogs or are afraid of them, you do not have to worry. Poppy will not bother you. She is very friendly, obedient, and normally stays either in the garden or at the host’s rooms. Personally, I loved having Poppy around.
There is a Croquet playing area in the garden. There is also a swing, on which you can chill during the day or during the evenings. There are lots of flowers and a smartly designed water-drinking area for birds in the garden. In summertime, all of this creates a wonderful ambience, with colourful flowers around, birds chirping, poppy jumping on the lush green grass of the garden, and hills in the surrounding area. Lastly, you must try the Manuka Honey spread which Trish stocks with all the snacks/breakfast items. Manuka Honey is unique to New Zealand.
(Croquet playing area)
(Manuka Honey spread)
(I recommend Avalanche B&B to anyone visiting Wanaka)