Wanaka is a mellow, but cheerful lakeside town surrounded by mountains. Base yourself here for a few days, so that you can fully enjoy everything this town and the surrounding region has to offer. We’ve allocated five days to Wanaka because we’re hoping you’ll head to West Matukituki Valley in Mount Aspiring National Park.
What to See & Do in Wanaka
- Rippon Winery – From the middle of town, walk along the lake to that Wanaka Tree. After passing the tree, look for a sign to Rippon. The winery offers free tastings and arguably the best vineyard views in NZ.
- Cinema Paradiso – This wacky licensed movie theater offers food and drink before and during the movie. During intermission, you can pick up refreshments, or their famous freshly baked cookies.
- Hike Roy’s Peak – One of NZ’s most popular hiking trails. The views don’t disappoint. It’s a steep track, but not difficult.
- Hike Isthmus Peak – Far less popular than Roys Peak (for no good reason), the Isthmus Peak traverses farmland with views of Lake Hāwea. When you get up on the ridge, you’ll have 360-degree views of both Hawea and Lake Wanaka. We hiked here in late March to the sound of rutting stags and the smell of mountain goats.
Where to Eat & Drink in Wanaka
- Francesca’s Italian Kitchen – pizza, pizza, divine pizza.
- Cork Bar – small wine bar.
- Alchemy – spacious café serving excellent coffee and baked goods.
- Kai Whakapai – scrumptious breakfast and lunch café.
Hike in West Matukituki Valley, Mount Aspiring National Park
The trailhead for the West Matukituki Valley trails is Raspberry Creek car park, an hour drive from Wanaka. The drive to the car park is difficult to impossible depending on rainfall. We had to park 3 km from the trailhead because the fords were too deep to cross. But, without rain, it’s no problem. Here are some hiking options:
- Rob Roy Glacier Track – Day Hike (Intermediate Tramp)
- Mount Aspiring Hut – Day Hike or Overnight Hike (Moderate Tramp)
- Liverpool Hut – Day Hike or Overnight Hike (Advanced Tramp)
- French Ridge Hut – Day Hike or Overnight Hike (Advanced Tramp)
We wrote about these hikes in our NZ Hiking Guide.
Stay in Wanaka
Camping | Lake Hawea Hotel and Campground has showers, laundry facilities, and an on-site bar and restaurant.
Budget | YHA Wanaka is a clean and comfortable backpackers’ hostel set in a great location, close to the lake. Guests love the staff, the well-stocked kitchen, communal lounge and dining area, and the rooms. Double rooms available.
Midrange | Two Stories is a bright and quiet guesthouse close to the lake and the famous Wanaka Tree photo spot. The bedrooms are clean, thoughtfully decorated, and all have private bathrooms. You can use the shared kitchen, BBQ facilities, and garden.
Luxury | Edgewater is situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka. The hotel’s restaurant and café are open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition to their seasonal menus, they bake 6 different scones daily and offer Sunday Roast and High Tea, by arrangement. The hotel facilities include a spa, two all-weather tennis courts, a 9 hole putting green, a children’s playground, and a Pétanque.
Look for accommodation in Wanaka.