After escaping the rain at Milford Sound we stocked up on food at Pak’n Save in Queenstown and continued the scenic road to Wanaka. We spent 2 days in beautiful Wanaka and did some serious hiking. But the refreshing little town also invites for relaxing strolls along the beach with breathtaking views of the Southern Alps. Where to stay and what to do in Wanaka?
Where to Stay in Wanaka?
We stayed at the Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park, it is very close to the city centre and the main attractions. The facilities are clean and new and free wifi is available unlimited. After a windy hiking day we were so happy to get in the spa facilities. The Holiday Park has a sauna and a hot tub, you can buy the ticket at the reception (5NZD per person). Check the prices now. During peak season you should book in advance to avoid disappointment.
What to do in Wanaka?
After you found a nice place to stay pack your hiking gear and get ready for some beautiful tracks with stunning views and so many colours.
A Must-Do in New Zealand Hike Roys Peak
Be prepared this is gonna be a tough hike, but it will reward you with the most stunning views on the Southern Alps and lake Wanaka. This is one of the highlights of our New Zealand trip and a must-do if you are in Wanaka They way up is already incredible beautiful. You are walking slopes through grassland and from the very beginning you can see the Southern Alps and lake Wanaka. With every step everything gets just smaller and smaller.
In total you should plan about 6 hours for your way up and down. The official hiking time up is 3 hours we made it in 2:15, but we really walked quite quickly and were super tired after arriving at the peak. So bring enough water and some snacks for recharging on the way. In my opinion, hiking shoes are not needed. The way is quite easy to walk and the lighter your shoes are the faster you will be up the mountain. The best time for going up is very early in the morning or late afternoon for catching the sunset. In both cases you need a torch. There are luckily no lights on the way so you can see a million stars. As this is a very famous place to hike therefore it is quite crowded. As we arrived around 4pm the parking lot was still super packed. A lot cars parked just on the site of the road and so did we. After coming down in the darkness we saw we got a fine of 60NZD for parking at the wrong spot. If you go hiking make sure you are on the proper parking spot and spend your travel budget on nicer things like ice cream 🙂 The way up does not feel crowded it spreads well on the 8km long way up. The sunset and view from the top is hard to describe but I just felt like the queen of the world 🙂 If you want to enjoy the mountains for a bit longer then bring some warm clothes depending on the season it can be cold on the top. After this tough hike you might need some well deserved rest. So don’t plan many other things on that day apart from relaxing.
Hike Around Diamond Lake
If you are up for more hiking there is another great spot for incredible views over lake Wanaka and Roys Peak. Head further down the road until you reach the Diamond lake and just follow the walking pass through the top. It is a beautiful roundtrip and will take about 3 hours. Don’t worry it is by far not as tough as the Roys Peak hike. We did it the day after Roys Peak and made it but our legs were quite heavy in the beginning of the hike.
Also you can admire the Roys Peak again and see how high you climbed up the day before. Seeing that it is hard to believe that we really walked up there in a bit more than 2 hours.
Enjoy Delicious Vegan Sorbet or Ice Cream at the Waterfront and Take a Stroll Along the Beach
After all the hiking it is time for relaxing with a big vegan ice cream. The sorbet at Black Peak Gelato is so yummy. I couldn’t believe there is no dairy inside just fruits and sugar. The fruits are also locally sourced from the Otago region. Get your ice cream in a cone to avoid the cup and who needs a spoon for eating ice cream? Enjoy your ice cream walking along the lake front with view on the mountains. And also good to know we didn’t see any sandflies.
Visit the Wanaka Lavender Farm
Have you ever been at a lavender farm? If not the take the opportunity and walk through the lavender fields and beautiful garden at the Wanaka Lavender Farm. The best time to visit is during summer when the lavender is in full bloom (January-February).
Watch the Sunset Close to the Famous Wanaka Tree
Did you know that there is a beautiful willow standing in the water a few meters from the beach at lake Wanaka. This tree is one of the most photographed trees in the world and has its own hashtag #thatwanakatree. It is even marked in Google maps including hashtag. If you walk along the beach in the evening you cant really miss it just go there where you see a huge crowd of people with big cameras waiting for the perfect moment to get that Wanaka tree picture with purple sky and smooth water.
Here is the map for your trip to Wanaka. Just click on the top right corner and the map will open within Google Maps on your phone or desktop. Afterwards you can find this map saved in “My Maps” in your Google Maps Account. If you are in New Zealand just open the map and find all places easily.