The road to Glenorchy takes you back in time.
For more than 40 kilometres, one of New Zealand’s great journeys hugs the eastern edge of Lake Wakatipu, leaving Queenstown and its urgent sprawl behind.
There is a moment, just after the road turns north, that a lookout appears on the left. A series of signs warn of its location but nothing, truly nothing, can prepare you for the view you find.
Before and below, the lake is revealed. Pig Island and Pigeon Island laze in the midwinter sun. It would be easy to just stay and enjoy this remarkable place, but our destination calls.
Glenorchy is the lake’s less shiny jewel; a place of glorious scenery and the gateway to some of the South Island’s most spectacular walking tracks.
We never get there. A couple of kilometres before the town at the top of the lake, we take a left turn down a long driveway and emerge into a movie star refuge.
Blanket Bay Lodge is, in every sense, a sanctuary. A place to hide. A place to relax. A place to forget that just a few kilometres away lies one of the adventure capitals of the world.
© the nomad
We arrive earlier than scheduled, but nothing’s a problem. Our room is ready and perfect for what we have planned, which is nothing. The property sprawls across this historic landing on the upper reach of the lake, and walking paths can take you through low brush, or along the coastline.
We try one out, but after an hour or so, decide lunch is probably going to be a better option and we are right.
Though it is midwinter, we park ourselves outside where a log fire keeps us warm, and the extraordinary view keeps us entertained until the fabulous three course lunch arrives.
“Glass of something with your lunch, sir?”
“Try and stop me.”
© the nomad
And so our day passes, somewhere between filling our stomachs and filling our hearts with some of New Zealand’s most glorious scenery.
Complimentary pre-dinner drinks in the bar are the perfect way to build towards what was another ideal expression of what Blanket Bay does so well, dinner.
Individual tables sprinkled throughout the main dining area ensure privacy isn’t just acknowledged, but a reflection of what the lodge is best at.
And you know what? With the exception of running into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in more than a decade, I can’t remember noticing any other guests the entire time we were there.
© the nomad
But isn’t that the point? I’m not sure many choose a place like Blanket Bay to socialise.
This is in every way an escape.
We weren’t there for long, but long enough to dream, and after our bags were carried to our car, we pointed our way back towards reality.