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14 Finest Issues to Do in Wanaka, New Zealand

The Southern Lakes area in New Zealand’s South Island is likely one of the most visited areas of the nation. Travellers are drawn to the enduring snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes, and lots of exhilarating journey actions.

Whereas Queenstown is the most well-liked lakeside city, we choose smaller, quieter Wanaka. Whereas the tempo of life could also be extra relaxed, there are nonetheless loads of wonderful issues to do in Wanaka from water sports activities and hikes to wine tasting and consuming at one of many many scrumptious eating places.

We’ve visited Wanaka in summer season and winter and each have so much to supply. We cherished snowboarding with unimaginable lake views within the winter and the quirky cinemas are excellent for escaping the chilly.

Spending a month in Wanaka through the summer season was even higher, although. The temperature in January reached 30ºC and we spent blissful days lounging on lakeside seashores, swimming within the cool water, exploring the lake by paddleboard and kayak, strolling by means of lavender fields, and consuming a lot of ice-cream.

Listed below are our favorite Wanaka actions.


The place is Wanaka in New Zealand

The city of Wanaka is on the southern fringe of Lake Wanaka within the south of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s within the Otago area an hour’s drive from Queenstown, which has the closest airport.

See the map on the finish of this submit with the places of the most effective issues to see in Wanaka.

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Finest Issues to Do in Wanaka

I’ve included prices for these Wanaka points of interest when relevant. All costs are in New Zealand {dollars}. The present trade price is NZD $1 = USD $0.66, GBP £0.51, and EUR €0.56.

1) Go to the Lake Inside a Lake on Mou Waho Island

Erin and Simon at the viewpoint on Mou Waho Island, one of the best things to do in Wanaka

Considered one of our absolute favorite issues to do in Wanaka is take a ship journey to Mou Waho Island.

The 45-minute journey to the island is an effective way to see the undeveloped aspect of Lake Wanaka and realise how large it’s (42km lengthy). The views of the encompassing mountains are gorgeous.

Mou Waho is a 2km-long island that’s the biggest of the 4 important islands in Lake Wanaka. It’s predator-free and a nature reserve for native birds—we noticed just a few buff weka pecking round.

On arrival on the island we had been free to discover on our personal. It’s a 20-minute uphill hike by means of native bush to see the distinctive lake inside the lake, the Arethusa Pool, which sits 150 metres above the floor of Lake Wanaka.

An additional five-minute stroll above the pool is an unimaginable view of the 2 lakes seeming to merge. We ate our lunch up on the rocks and will have spent all day right here, however we couldn’t flip down the chance for a swim.

The pool is supposedly just a few levels hotter than Lake Wanaka, but it surely nonetheless felt very chilly to us! It was positively value it, although.

Particulars: We visited Mou Waho with Wanaka Water Taxis which prices $125 for a three-hour journey at 10am (which we did) or 1pm. The information gave us a lot of info on the best way, however we explored the island on our personal.

The 1.5 hours on the island was simply sufficient time to hike to the lake, eat lunch, and swim, however we might have cherished to linger longer. In case you have the money, you would rent a ship to get out right here and even camp in a single day.

2) Stroll Alongside Lake Wanaka

That Wanaka Tree on a cloudy day

That Wanaka Tree

Possible the very first thing you’ll do in Lake Wanaka is take a stroll alongside the lakefront. From the city centre a path leads for miles alongside the waterfront and the additional you get from city, the quieter it turns into.

Probably the most well-known landmark is That Wanaka Tree, which grows out of the water and has develop into an Instagram star. It’s a 20-minute stroll from the Wanaka i-SITE customer centre.

The pebble seaside alongside the lakefront is a well-liked place to loosen up in the summertime. We loved water sports activities right here however most well-liked to swim at quieter Lake Hawea (see under).

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3) Hike in Mount Aspiring Nationwide Park

The view on a hike to Aspiring Hut in Mount Aspiring National Park, one of the best Wanaka activities

There are numerous hikes close to Wanaka—see the free Wanaka Tracks app for concepts. By far the most well-liked Wanaka hike is Roy’s Peak, a difficult climb that’s rewarded with unimaginable lake views. It will get very crowded although, with hikers queuing as much as take the right Instagram shot.

We determined to hike in close by Mount Aspiring Nationwide Park as a substitute, and it’s positively certainly one of our high issues to do in Wanaka with traditional New Zealand mountain and river surroundings.

There are many trails within the park and we needed a half-day stroll that wouldn’t be too difficult. We selected a hike within the West Matukituki valley from the Raspberry Flat automobile park to Aspiring Hut. The return hike was 18.6km (11.5 miles) and took us Three hours 45 minutes (plus a half-hour lunch break).

The path was straightforward—largely flat with just a few mild hills and shallow creek crossings—and the views had been astounding. A lot of the means we adopted the turquoise Matukituki River previous golden meadows with views of snow-topped Mt Aspiring within the distance.

Simon on a hike in Mount Aspiring National Park

Waterfalls trickled down the forest-covered mountains on both aspect of the valley (blowing sideways within the robust wind), and we received a glimpse of Rob Roy Glacier (we might have appreciated to hike up right here, however the path is at the moment closed).

At Aspiring Hut we ate our picnic lunch and returned the best way we got here. You would additionally keep in a single day in one of many 29 bunk beds—it’s first come, first served—or proceed deeper into the mountains to different huts.

It’s an hour’s drive from Wanaka to the Raspberry Flat automobile park and the final 30km is on an unsealed street with rivers to ford. We had been high quality in a small automobile, but it surely’s not a good suggestion to drive it after rain—test situations earlier than you head out.

The gravel road on the way to Mount Aspiring National Park

The gravel street on the best way to Mount Aspiring Nationwide Park

It’s properly well worth the lovely drive because the park has one thing to supply everybody from skilled hikers searching for a multi-day tramp to day-trippers wanting a delicate stroll, and it’s a lot much less crowded than the paths nearer to city. Even should you simply walked 30 minutes from the automobile park and had a picnic, it’d be value it for the gorgeous alpine surroundings.

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4) Stand Up Paddleboard on the Lake

Considered one of these greatest issues to do in Wanaka in summer season is rent some water sports activities gear and get out on the lake to benefit from the clear calm water and mountain views.

We rented rise up paddleboards and managed to get to the Wanaka Tree and again in our hour’s rental with out falling off.

Particulars: Paddle Wanaka on the lakefront rents paddleboards for $20 an hour.

5) Kayak to Ruby Island

Kayaking in Lake Wanaka to Ruby Island

We additionally rented a kayak for 2 hours, which was sufficient time to achieve Ruby Island. The water is superbly clear right here and you are able to do a 15-minute loop stroll across the island (besides if it’s flooded because it was on our go to).

Alongside the best way we loved views of Rippon Vineyard and the encompassing mountains.

Particulars: Paddle Wanaka rents double kayaks for $40 an hour. Select a peaceful day as they gained’t lease them out if it’s too windy.

6) Wine Style with a View at Rippon Vineyard

The view from Rippon Winery of lavender, vines and Lake Wanaka

We’ve had many great vineyard experiences in New Zealand (Marlborough wine area is our favorite), however the views at Rippon Vineyard beat all of them.

Even should you aren’t a drinker, it’s value visiting for the colorful scene—lavender crops, inexperienced vines, and azure lake with views of Ruby Island.

The wine is superb too, and it’s all biodynamic and natural. Tastings are a bunch expertise and embody a lot of info on the vineyard and wines.

On a scorching summer season’s day, we largely tried whites and handled ourselves to bottles of the uncommon Osteiner white (so refreshing) and a rerelease of their 2010 Pinot Noir for our 10th nomadiversary. 

Particulars: Tastings are free however have to be booked on the Rippon web site. In the summertime they happen on the hour from 11am to 4pm and final about 45 minutes. Hours are diminished in winter. You obtain the gate code a day earlier than your go to. 

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7) Hike the Rocky Mountain Path

The view from the Lake Wanaka Lookout in the Diamond Lake Conservation Area, Lake Wanaka

The view from the Lake Wanaka Lookout within the Diamond Lake Conservation Space

The perfect brief hike for a view of Lake Wanaka is on the Diamond Lake Conservation Space, a 20-minute drive from the centre of city close to the western shore of the lake.

We walked to the Lake Wanaka Lookout which took us 1 hour 10 minutes return (plus time on the high) for the 4.75km (Three mile) return hike. It’s uphill however not too difficult.

On the viewpoint you possibly can sit on a bench or grassy patch and benefit from the panorama of countless lake and mountains.

You would additionally proceed to the Rocky Mountain Summit (7km /4.Three miles return) the place you possibly can see Mount Aspiring.

We arrived late morning and the automobile park was already full (we needed to park on the aspect of the street), so I like to recommend getting there early.

Rocky Mountain is a superb different to Roy’s Peak if you would like a shorter, simpler, and fewer crowded hike with lake views.

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8) Stroll Up Mount Iron

The view from Mount Iron of Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

If you’d like an excellent simpler hike near the centre of Wanaka (it’s a five-minute drive), head up Mount Iron, a well-liked train spot with locals.

The return stroll on the loop observe took us 1 hour 10 minutes and was pretty straightforward. From the highest there are views of Wanaka township and the lake and peaks past. The views are a lot better at Rocky Mountain, however you probably have restricted time and power, it’s value heading up right here. It’s additionally a very good choice in winter.

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9) Discover Wanaka Lavender Farm

Wanaka Lavender Farm

The Wanaka Lavender Farm is likely one of the high Wanaka vacationer points of interest and was a lot greater and higher than I anticipated it to be.

You want not less than an hour to wander by means of the numerous fairly lavender fields, play video games like big jenga and pétanque, take an Instagram shot by the purple door in the midst of a discipline, see the vegetable backyard and beehives, meet the animals (donkeys, alpaca, sheep, goats, ponies), and pattern lavender treats and honey within the cafe.

A purple door in a lavender field at Wanaka Lavender Farm, a top Wanaka attraction

Sure, it’s very best for youths, but it surely’s additionally a wonderful place for anybody to walk and loosen up. It does get busy in summer season (when the lavender is in bloom), so I like to recommend arriving at opening time.

Particulars: Entrance is $10 and it’s open 9am to 5pm daily in summer season with shorter hours in winter (and a diminished $5 price). It’s a five-minute drive from the centre of city.

10) Go to Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea, New Zealand

We selected to base ourselves at Lake Hawea (see lodging part under) and fell in love with this peaceable lake a 20-minute drive from Wanaka.

Even in the summertime holidays, it’s a lot quieter than Wanaka and we most well-liked the pebble seaside right here and swimming within the splendidly clear blue water.

Swimming in Lake Hawea, New Zealand

A gravel path skirts the shore (a part of the Te Araroa Path) and you’ll stroll or run for miles.

You would additionally cycle from Wanaka to Hawea alongside the turquoise Clutha and Hawea Rivers. When you’d choose to cycle the 30km (19 mile) path solely one-way, this self-guided cycle tour drops you off in Hawea and also you cycle again. 

The tiny Hawea township is far much less developed than Wanaka, however the few native companies are wonderful. We cherished the candy treats on the Sailz retailer and having a drink within the beer backyard of the Lake Hawea Lodge.

In an unlikely location on the petrol station on the best way into city is Mo’s, a caravan the place you possibly can decide up wonderful espresso, sourdough toasties, cheese scones, and uncooked vegan treats. I like to recommend getting a takeaway right here to eat on the lakefront.

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11) Fly, Hike and Jetboat on the Siberia Expertise

If you wish to pack three adventures into simply half a day, think about doing the Siberia Expertise.

The journey begins in Makarora, an hour’s drive from Wanaka with lovely views of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea on the best way.

The primary leg is a 20-minute flight on a tiny 6-seater aircraft that takes off from a grassy discipline. We flew by means of the alpine valleys of Mount Aspiring Nationwide Park above braided rivers and a turquoise lake surrounded by glaciers earlier than touchdown in a meadow in a distant valley.

View from the plane ride on the Siberia Experience, New Zealand

View from the aircraft

View from the plane ride on the Siberia Experience, New Zealand
Siberia Experience plane ride

From right here we had been left to do a self-guided 7km (4.Three mile) hike. It begins with a typical New Zealand backcountry problem—a river crossing! The river was vast and got here as much as our knees however wasn’t too ferocious. As is really helpful, we stored our mountain climbing sneakers on for the crossing which made is fairly straightforward, if extraordinarily chilly, particularly on a surprisingly frosty summer season morning.

Strolling with moist toes wasn’t as dangerous as we imagined (merino wool socks assist), however you would at all times convey water sneakers for the crossing if it bothers you.

As soon as on the opposite aspect we adopted the extremely clear blue Siberia River with spectacular views of a snowy glacier on the finish of the valley.

River on Siberia Experience

The path quickly enters a forest for a delicate uphill climb. It’s a beautiful stroll by means of native bush with nobody else round, however we had anticipated to be surrounded by mountains for longer.

After two hours we reached the assembly level on the Wilkin River the place we waited for our pickup on the pebble seaside and loved the beautiful views.

Jetboat ride on Siberia Experience

The ultimate journey is a 20-minute jet boat trip again to the beginning. The surroundings is gorgeous and the boats are impressively clean as they velocity alongside, skimming over the shallow water. We did a few quick turns and one 360º flip, but it surely wasn’t as a lot of a thrill trip because the Shotover Jet Boat journey Simon did in Queenstown.

The Siberia Expertise isn’t low cost but it surely’s an effective way to suit so much into a brief period of time. The hike is straightforward and the surroundings is gorgeous. In case you are on a restricted finances, see above for particulars of a free hike in Mount Aspiring Nationwide Park the place the views are simply pretty much as good.

When you are in Makarora you would additionally go to the Blue Swimming pools, that are a brief drive and 10-minute stroll away. Sadly, after heavy rain the water was extra gray than blue for us.

Particulars: The Siberia Expertise prices $435. It begins from the Wonderland Makarora Lodge and lasts 4 hours. It’s greatest to guide for early on in your journey as it may typically be cancelled because of climate and river situations (our first journey was cancelled).

We additionally discovered the workers relatively unreliable—they turned up 30 minutes after our first scheduled flight was due as that they had overslept. I like to recommend taking heat garments, meals, water, and bug repellent (there are sandflies on the river seaside).

12) Watch a Film at an Unbiased Cinema

In case you are searching for issues to do in Wanaka on a wet day, head to one of many two unbelievable unbiased cinemas.

We now have fond recollections of watching a movie at Cinema Paradiso on our first journey to Wanaka 12 years in the past. Though it has moved places since, it was simply as we remembered it—the theatre options outdated couches and a classic Morris Minor automobile and through the intermission you should purchase heat selfmade cookies and ice-cream. You too can get meals delivered to your seat.

One other unbelievable little cinema in Wanaka is Rubys. It has extra of a luxurious really feel than Cinema Paradiso (and higher air con) and you’ll order distinctive cocktails (I appreciated the jaffa martini) and meals to your seat.

The theatres are small and intimate with snug reclining seats. Additionally they have intermissions.

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13) Ski or Snowboard within the Surrounding Mountains

Wanaka is simply as fashionable within the winter as in the summertime as it’s surrounded by unbelievable snowboarding alternatives. There are three ski fields inside a 40-minute drive of central Wanaka—Cardrona, Treble Cone, and Snow Farm.

We cherished the astounding lake views at Treble Cone. Cardrona is healthier for novices.

The ski season often runs from late-June to early October and through the college holidays in July is the busiest time. You’ll be able to lease all of the gear you want on the town.

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14) Get Adventurous

Wanaka rivals Queenstown as the journey capital of New Zealand.

We took it straightforward on our newest journey, however there are numerous thrilling actions you possibly can take part in together with skydiving, jet boating, mountaineering, canyoning, paragliding, mountain biking, and horse using. This waterfall climb by by way of ferrata seems to be wonderful.

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The Finest Wanaka Eating places

Wanaka has a surprisingly wonderful restaurant scene for its dimension. Listed below are our favorite locations to eat.

Fast Eats in Wanaka

Patagonia Sweets

Scrumptious ice-cream near the waterfront (we most well-liked it to close by Black Peak Gelato). I cherished the dulce de leche flavour and the cones with chocolate on the backside.

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Large Fig

Sluggish meals, served quick. Large Fig is a handy place to eat in or get takeaway on the waterfront. Choose the scale plate you need and select from the scrumptious cold and hot dishes on the counter. Meals is Mediterranean impressed and there are many vegetarian choices. One of many least expensive locations for a wholesome meal.

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Burrito Craft

This meals truck has scrumptious burritos and tacos with mushroom and jackfruit choices for vegetarians. You’ll be able to select the spice degree—5 was fairly spicy.

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The Good Spot

The Good Spot coffee cart in Wanaka

This espresso truck on the outskirts of city close to Mount Iron is a neighborhood favorite. We cherished the espresso, cheese scones, and chocolate pastries. They’ve just a few vegan choices too.

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The Doughbin Bakery

Pie from Doughbin Bakery at Lake Wanaka

For a fast, low cost meal to eat on the seaside, seize a pie from this takeaway on the waterfront. The veggie pie was tasty.

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Wineglass Cafe at Edgewater Lodge

Coffee cart at Edgewater Hotel, Wanaka

The cafe on the Edgewater Lodge is all in regards to the location—the outside seating has pretty views of the lake. In contrast to the locations within the centre of city which have a street between them and the lake, that is correct waterfront on a quieter part of the lake.

We visited earlier than our wine tasting at close by Rippon Winery and it was so crowded on a scorching summer season’s day that we didn’t have time to attempt certainly one of their really helpful scones. As an alternative we ordered drinks from the quieter espresso cart within the backyard.

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Pink Star Burger Bar

A great spot for a simple, filling meal. The lentil burger was fairly good, however sadly the fries are cooked in animal fats.

Eating places in Wanaka


The perfect meal we had in Wanaka was at Ode, a high quality eating restaurant with a laid-back environment. All of the elements are natural and from New Zealand. Our three-course vegetarian tasting menu value $55 and all the things was scrumptious and fascinating.

Advance bookings are really helpful and important if you’re vegan.

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Kika was a detailed second to Ode for our favorite restaurant in Wanaka. It’s fashionable and so they don’t take bookings, however we managed to get in by arriving at 5.30pm on a Saturday.

The seasonal menu consists of sharing plates, and though there aren’t a ton of veggie choices, what they do have is artistic and attractive. We particularly loved the avocado mousse with pesto and flatbread, Mexican elote with popcorn, and the gnocchi. The cherry chocolate dessert was certainly one of our favorite desserts in New Zealand.

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Francesca’s Italian Kitchen

A preferred Italian restaurant (bookings for dinner are important) with scrumptious pizza, pasta, and risotto.

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Kai Whakapai Cafe

This lakefront cafe within the centre of city has outside seating and may be very fashionable at any time of day. We loved the Buddha bowl with tofu together with a glass of the native Rippon Sauvignon Blanc.

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Amigos Mexican Grill

Amigos Mexican Grill, Wanaka

We appreciated the numerous vegetarian and vegan choices at this Mexican restaurant in addition to the nice choice of scorching sauces.

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Wanaka Lodging


If you wish to be near eating places and actions, keep within the Wanaka township.

I’d love to remain at Edgewater Lodge which is the one lodging immediately on the shore of the lake. The views are lovely and there’s a restaurant, tennis courts, and spa. The lakefront path is on the finish of the backyard and it’s a 20-minute stroll into the centre of city. Studio rooms and flats can be found. 

When you’d choose to be nearer to city, Lakeside Residences is within the coronary heart of the motion and has pretty views and an out of doors pool. 

You too can search for rooms and homes in Wanaka on Airbnb.

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Wanaka is busy and costly in January, so we selected to spend our month at Lake Hawea as a substitute. It’s a 20-minute drive from Wanaka and there’s not a lot there, so it’s not the most effective base if you wish to eat out often and take a lot of excursions.

In case you are searching for a tranquil spot, although, it’s value contemplating. I feel the lake is much more lovely than Wanaka—the water is bluer and there’s no improvement on the lakefront.

We rented this two-bedroom home in Hawea on Airbnb. It’s fashionable and clear with a spacious open plan dwelling space and kitchen with sliding doorways that open onto the backyard. The home was snug and well-equipped and the host was pleasant and useful. It’s a 7-minute stroll from the store (over a small hill) and 12 minutes from the lakefront seaside.

In fact, being even nearer to the water can be greatest, however lake homes get booked up far prematurely in summer season. This one-bedroom lakefront cottage seems to be excellent for {couples}.

Seek for extra Airbnbs in Hawea right here. 

The opposite lodging choices are the Hawea Lodge and The Camp Lake Hawea, which has glamping tents and cabins in addition to campsites.

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The right way to Get to Wanaka

Most individuals go to Wanaka from Queenstown, which is a one-hour drive away and has the closest airport.

In case you are street tripping across the South Island, from Wanaka you would proceed to the west coast—Haast is a 2-hour drive and Fox Glacier is about 3.5 hours away.

Alternatively, as we did on our newest journey, you would drive up the centre of the island to Mount Cook dinner and Lake Tekapo, each about 2.5 hours away. Past is Christchurch, not less than a 5-hour drive and the closest main worldwide airport.

Though it’s greatest to have a automobile to discover the realm, Ritchies has a twice-daily coach to and from Queenstown. It’s additionally potential to get an Intercity bus to Dunedin by altering at Cromwell.

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Wanaka New Zealand Map

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Extra New Zealand Posts

South Island

North Island

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