Outside Looking In: Monique Devereux
In our latest Outside Looking In column, former TV, radio and newspaper journalist Monique Devereux reminisces about New Year in Wanaka as an excited teenager...which she's now experiencing again with the next generation.
As a Cantabrian teenager there were only ever two choices for places to spend New Year’s Eve - Nelson or Wanaka. Both sufficiently far away from home to ensure a level of freedom and independence could be experienced, yet with the safety net of six degrees of separation meaning that there were always plenty of people you knew close by.
My first visit to the Southern Lakes District was for New Year’s Eve as a wide-eyed 16 year old. Three carloads of us in fact; togs, tents, chilly bins of food and bottles of cheap plonk were probably all we thought about packing. I doubt anyone had much money and my memory fails to remind me who organised the important things like a campsite.
What I do remember was the fun, carefree days of swimming in the cold, cold lake, trying to get into pubs, eating a lot of BBQed food, and generally having a fantastic time in a beautiful setting. The carefree life one leads as a 16-year-old on holiday! We were all sad to leave Wanaka that January.
Since becoming a fully-fledged adult I’ve made many trips to the district for work. Most striking was a visit to Arrowtown in autumn, when the red and gold leaves created a warming, welcoming effect, and the crisp mountain air ensured the walk up the hillside behind the town really made you feel alive. When the kids were small we made Queenstown our base for a ski-holiday week, ensuring we took in the other touristy experiences as well to really pass our love of the region over to the next generation. Not that it was hard because who can resist the luge or the gondala, or golfing at any of the ridiculously scenic courses?
My most recent visits have been to tackle my first half marathon – Queenstown could not have made that a better experience for me with its glorious weather and welcoming crowds. Good friends who moved to Queenstown after the Christchurch earthquakes have a beautiful spot on the hill, looking down on the lake – and we love to take them up on their open invitation to visit when we can. Nothing better than sitting on their sun-drenched balcony, watching the world go by.
And as life comes full circle, we’ve spent the past two New Years’ Eves in Wanaka and Queenstown with the now-teenage children – but not “with” the children, of course. Just nearby, exercising that six degrees of separation thing that delivers the teenage freedom while acting as a safety net if needed.
In the 30 intervening years much has changed to my visiting eye, but then again, so much has stayed the same. A holiday anywhere in the region is a treat, and be it a visit for work or sport or just relaxing, I know that I will leave recharged and happy.
Monique Devereux is a former journalist at Campbell Live, Radio New Zealand and the New Zealand Herald, who grew up in Ashburton. Now lives in Christchurch and works for AgResearch as the Communications and Marketing Director. Loves to travel and seek out new adventures, but enjoys just generally being on holiday anywhere she can!