Wanaka is a busy little town on New Zealand’s South Island that attracts avid nature lovers in the summer and snow enthusiasts in the winter. Its location on the southern end of Lake Wanaka, surrounded by many beautiful mountains, has made it the best snow sport destination in New Zealand. When the snows melt in summer, they reveal beautiful valleys and parks that call to hikers and campers around the world.
Wanaka enjoys two prominent tourist seasons. In the summer, visitors flock to hike Mount Aspiring National Park. The park includes many excellent day hikes, while more avid hikers will camp in the park for weeks at a time or even try to ascend the crown jewel of the park, Mount Aspiring (one of the tallest peaks in the country). Other popular summer activities include waterskiing, sailing, fishing, and jet boating on beautiful Lake Wanaka. Mountain biking and rock climbing are also great options for your holiday to-do list.
In the winter season, Wanaka becomes a skiing and snowboarding paradise. Visitors get to try some of New Zealand’s premier commercial fields, including Treble Cone, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Park, and Snow Farm.
Though Wanaka is small, its nightlife is growing fast. The town includes many fine dining experiences and lots of tasty wine from its nearby wine region. Make sure to try the area’s specialty, pinot noirs.
Wanaka is a resort town that offers a wide variety of hotels, motels, lodges, holiday homes, and apartments to fit nearly every budget. Wanaka luxury accommodation will appeal to guests with more expensive tastes, and many offer views of the mountains and lake that cannot be beat. Travellers on a budget can find a back packer hotel or holiday park. Camping is very popular around Mount Aspiring and cabins are available for rent as well. The winter season books up fast, so make sure to find your accommodation early for your ski or snowboarding trip.
Wanaka is serviced by the small Wanaka Airport, which receives domestic flights. If you are traveling to Wanaka from across an ocean, you will need to change flights during your journey. The airport is roughly 54 km from the town centre, so make sure you are prepared to reserve a Wanaka car rental, or make shuttle or bus arrangements. If you are coming in by car, you can get to town on State Highways 6 and 84 as well as with roads over the Crown Range. Local New Zealanders can make it to Wanaka by bus from Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Invercargill, and Greymouth.
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