When Craig Fraser came across a section in Wānaka with expansive views of Lake Wānaka and the surrounding mountains one morning, by the afternoon it was his. Then, he phoned his unsuspecting wife Natalie to tell her their good fortune.
“I fell in love straight away,” says Craig of the view out to Ruby Island in Lake Wānaka, across to the snow-capped Mt Avalanche and the Buchanan Peaks. To the left is Roys Peak, dubbed the most Instagrammable spot in New Zealand, and a place where ’grammers will find themselves queuing for two hours for their money shot.
Fortunately, Natalie’s parents live in the town and she’d grown up having holidays there so she was very happy. It’s also only a three-hour drive from their Timaru home. The intention was to build a holiday place they could get away to for school holidays with their three children.
The couple engaged local Pete Barham of Open Architecture with the prerequisite of space as their renovated Timaru villa is only 130sqm. And, of course, to maximise the view. “With views like this, we wanted as much glass as we could to maximise the views,” says Craig.
Subsequently, the four-bedroom home’s U-shape is built around a sheltered deck “so we can be outside when it’s windy,” says Natalie. The open-plan kitchen/dining and living is effectively a glass pavilion, fully glazed in Vantage’s Metro Series floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, so the view from the wood-fired hot tub on the deck is uninterrupted.
On the other side of the deck in the children’s media room, the floor-to-ceiling doors across the length of the space means that jaw-dropping scenery is still in full view. In the hallway, the family never tire of looking out the full-height Vantage picture window, perfectly framing Ruby Island.
During winter, Wānaka is a legendary winter wonderland but the temperatures are often below freezing, so having low emissivity (Low E) glass was imperative for them. Then come summer, it gets hot. “We want to be able to push the doors back and open the whole front of the house up to the back. In summer, you can sit back in the children’s lounge with all the doors open and get a breeze flowing to keep it cool as well,” says Natalie.
As a holiday home, they’re not in any great hurry to get wifi connected so they can make the most of the environment. Craig and Natalie love cycling the bike trails and hiking, but they admit it can sometimes be a challenge for the kids to get back into the rhythm of not being able to use their devices. “They have to come up with their own creative games,” says Natalie. “We try and get them out on their bikes and it’s a 20-minute walk into town, so we can spend all day wandering into town and having lunch.”
In summer, they’re getting into boating but it’s the simple pleasure of being lakeside and skimming stones into the water and playing around with the paddle board says Craig, that makes the place so special for them.