One person has seen more of Wānaka than many locals born and bred here, even though they don’t live here. Christmas 2019 was David McGregor’s 64th year visiting the Wānaka area since 1956. Currently a Gore resident, McGregor has kept on returning to the Glendhu Bay area each year for holidays and other recreational activities.
McGregor said that the thing that makes Wānaka so important is, “the hot dry climate and beautiful fresh clean mountain water in the lake and the swimming, water skiing, fishing, walking, and four wheel driving in the pristine surroundings,” on top of that, he added, “the magnificent scenery and million dollar views from our beachside caravan and looking at the stars and satellites on the clear mild nights. [Also the] long days and daylight till after 10pm.”
Wānaka has undergone a vast amount of change over those 60 years, transforming from a sleepy ski town to the tourist hotspot we know as home today. McGregor remembers the old days fondly, “the road was gravel with pot holes a plenty. It was better to go to town to shop in the boat. [Glendhu Bay] was serviced only by a water supply from a dam up the hill and several long drop toilets… once without any electric power. It was originally a real camper’s camp. In a way it is spoiled with such amenities. New lodges and cabins too, now. Lots more people come to Glendhu bay now than 50 years ago and they have extended the size of the camp twice over that period. My brother and his wife, Doug and Lillian Malcolm started coming to Glendhu before we did -- probably about 1954. They brought our boat with them. It was called Rock ‘n’ Roll and the beach mission was nicknamed The Holy Rollers. In the early days they had a resident ambulance officer who treated duck itch mainly. The butcher, green grocer, and grocer visited with loads of foodstuffs and the ‘Happy Wanderer’ brought ice creams. We had fires on the beach and fireworks on New Year's Eve. But that had been knocked on the head now.”