There’s no shortage of things to do in Wanaka and — best of all — most of them are free! One of the many reasons we think Wanaka should be a destination in its own right rather than a thoroughfare for the West Coast.
There’s such an abundance of amazing free activities — we couldn't not share some of our favourites:
- Hike the Rob Roy Glacier. The Rob Roy Glacier is a hanging glacier located in the Mt Aspiring National Park, a One hour drive from Wanaka through the Matukituki valley. A moderate three hour round trip you’ll see snowfields, native bush, sheer rock faces, waterfalls and the rushing Matukituki river. Most of the walk is within the forest, with the last 100m opening out onto an alpine meadow just underneath the glacier.
- Wishbone Falls. At 77 metres high these falls are truly spectacular. Located at the entrance to the Mt Aspiring National Park, an hours drive from Wanaka, they cascade down the glacier-hewn rock to a calm pool beneath. A popular swimming spot, and the perfect place to take a picnic.
- Walk the Millennium Track. This gentle track traverses the lake edge from Waterfall creek to Glendhu Bay. Offering some of the best views in Wanaka this undulating hike is a relaxing way to take in the best of Wanaka scenery. You also have the option of not walking the full way to Glendhu — still a beautiful and fulfilling walk.
- Bike the outlet track. Known as the ‘Outlet Track’ due to the fact that it begins where the river joins with Lake Wanaka. Although popular with bit walkers and bike, we believe the best way to experience this one is from two wheels. You’ll see pine trees, native bush, sheer cliffs and beautiful poplars that turn bright orange in the Autumn.
- Have a picnic by the lake. When you see Wanaka, you’ll see why this one’s a no-brainer. The lake is framed by mountains and pine forest, and the air is crisp and clean. We think there's no better way to experience the beauty of this town than grabbing a gourmet food hamper and settling in on the lake edge.
- Visit the Thursday night farmers market. This one's a must — particularly if you're from the city. From free-range grass-fed meat to organic eggs, produce, honey and crafts - this market brings out the best of our small town. You’ll also be able to sample homemade beer, cakes and pastries.
We’re a little biased (because Wanaka is our home) but we heartily recommend including a little time in Wanaka to your New Zealand experience. An hour's drive from New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown, Wanaka is the quieter cousin. But what it lacks in bright lights and adventure experiences it makes up for in truly spectacular scenery.