Wanaka: Full of Surprises

It was my 60th birthday on May 2nd. I kinda put Greg on notice that I would like him to organise something, as usually it is me who organises not only his significant celebrations but mine also. I knew he had organised some travel plans but I did not know any details. Two weeks before my actual birthday we had a gathering at home where, as usual, I had organised the food and drinks etc. and he had done the inviting! It was a lovely night but there was still no mention of where we were going and nobody would even confirm that we were going any time soon.

The Monday after the party he told me we were off to New Zealand, but didn’t specify Wanaka, as we had been talking about going to Auckland. Anyway, I packed and we usually leave from Gold Coast airport so on the Friday we set off and he said let’s have lunch at Kirra Surf Club before checking in to Wyndham there for the night. We had just got our lunch when in walked three of our dearest friends, Stephen and Leslie-Anne  and Kay, who we have known since our school days, shortly followed by my younger sister Mandy who lives at Airlie Beach. My other sister had been at the party at home but obviously Mandy had not. So the surprises kept on coming and I was told we were going to Wanaka, which is one of my favourite destinations.


After a night of lots of laughs and champagne at Kirra, we flew into Queenstown, picked up our hire car and Greg suggested we have lunch here in Queenstown before heading off to Wanaka – not the norm for us, but ok. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the Frankton Arms Tavern. Then Stephen and Greg disappeared so the rest of us enjoyed another glass of wine. When they returned they had our dear friends Tony and Kate with them, who had flown in from Sydney and who we hadn’t seen for  a couple of years. Kate was my bridesmaid and Greg was Tony’s best man. At this point I was thinking, “I hope Greg has made appropriate bookings”!

So we reached Wanaka and Greg went to check in – I jokingly said, “I hope you’ve booked the Presidential Suite,” as we’d toured it on a previous visit. To my delight, he had!

We had a lovely weekend sightseeing and lots of eating, drinking and catching up. Greg told us we all had to be dressed in our nice clothes and ready by noon on Tuesday – my actual birthday. We thought we were just going out for lunch. At midday Kay disappeared and returned with Liz Maluschnig, who introduced herself as a marriage celebrant here to perform our vow renewal ceremony!  Surprised doesn’t go close to describing our reactions. Kay was the only one in the group who knew anything about the vow renewal.


Liz performed a beautiful ceremony on the deck of our suite, that she and Greg has been working on for a while and also included beautiful words from my son who lives in Brugge in Belgium and my daughter who lives in London, lovely words from Kay and a Celtic blessing read by my sister and a beautiful new emerald ring ( my birthstone). I can not recommend Liz highly enough, she was so lovely and put everyone at ease – she is one of those lovely people you feel like you’ve known forever. She provided a lovely hard cover folder with full transcript of the ceremony.


It all came out after the event, Greg had started planning last September, booking flights, accommodation, car and the invitees. My husband, family and friends had kept the secret and even fibbed to my face. Kay had helped Greg with the vow renewal, even paying for the ring so it wouldn’t appear on our credit card and ruin the surprise!

The staff at Wanaka, as always, were lovely and I have to give a special mention to Abbey, who put up with Stephen’s flirting – haha!

Vanessa & Greg
Wyndham Timeshare Owners since 2007

Read more Wanaka (NZ) holiday stories by Wyndham timeshare Owners 

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