“Thank goodness for Queenstown – the town which allows Wanaka to be the best place in the world to live”.

Read this opinion given by a high profile local resident in a recent Fairfax editorial.

When I first moved to Wanaka almost 13 years ago I was sure I had found paradise and I am just as convinced of that today – probably even more so.  Yes I am sure there are other great places to live but nowhere I have come across seems to tick as many boxes for me as Wanaka.  However, when I did first arrive I also fell into the trap that a number of others have done of seeing Queenstown as the evil big brother over the hill.  I admit I was as guilty as the next person of tagging Queenstown with monikers such as “the dark side” and smugly smiling to myself whenever a local over there would bemoan the latest downside of living there.

I also used to be a big supporter of getting regular air services out of Wanaka and wasn’t happy about having to travel over the Crown Range to catch a flight.  Today I see things a little differently.  And in fact now I love Queenstown and I’m so glad that Queenstown is there and is what it is.  Because at the end of the day without Queenstown, I don’t believe Wanaka would be the perfect place to live it is today.  Let’s assume Queenstown did not exist and that the Wakatipu basin was just part of Mt Aspiring National Park.  Do you think Wanaka would look anything like it does today or are you with me in surmising that we might look a whole lot more like our cousins over the hill with high-rise hotels ringing the lakefront and a gondola up Mt Roy.  So let’s celebrate Queenstown.  Let’s celebrate our similarities and our differences.

I long ago gave up on Wanaka having a sustainable regular air service.  I now embrace the 45 minute drive over the stunning Crown Range road.  If you’ve got Bluetooth you can still be busy clearing phone calls as you drive over, or you might take the chance to listen to some good music or goodness forbid you may just enjoy some nice quiet time.  If you live in Auckland a 45 minute drive to the airport is not unusual and that’s in slow, stop start traffic.  Here you’re driving through some of the most stunning landscape in New Zealand.  The big airlines have already made it clear they don’t want to service two airports so close together so let’s move on and the more we support Queenstown airport the more cheaper fares there will be available out of there.  And next time you’re down on the lakefront enjoying the uncluttered, uninterrupted views up the lake and around town just give a quiet word of thanks to Queenstown, our wonderful neighbour who allows us to be the best place in the world to live.