One of the main inspirations for my trip to New Zealand was, of course, the incredible scenery. I’d been enticed by its stunning mirror-lakes, impressive glaciers, rolling hills and snow-capped mountains! But I’ll be honest, before venturing to the country I knew very little about Wanaka. I definitely wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feeling of warmth I got from visiting. After only four days in this little lakeside town I’d fallen head over heels in love.
I should probably give you an introduction to the lakeside town that captured my heart. Wanaka is located only 120km from its popular neighbour Queenstown in the south island of New Zealand. Whilst many travellers prefer Queenstown (it is considered the adrenaline capital of the world, after all!) it didn’t take long for Wanaka to steal my attention. Surrounded by the towering peaks of the southern alps, it’s incredibly picturesque without even having to try!
So get ready to find out just why I fell in love with Wanaka…
The journey is just as beautiful as the destination
It would be thoughtless to speak of Wanaka without mentioning the incredibly picturesque drive in! If you’re coming from the west, be prepared for some jaw-dropping views of Lake Hawea. Seriously. It’ll be one of those journeys where you can do nothing but stare out of the window in awe, and if you’re travelling via bus, choose the left side! You’ll thank me later.
It’s as if the drive is preparing you for what’s to come. When you first arrive in Wanaka you’ll more than likely be astounded by its picture-perfect views! My recommendation would be to check in, drop your bags off and head straight down to the lake to experience Wanaka at its finest!
It’s a peaceful oasis in the south
With a population of under 10,000 people, Wanaka a lot quieter than its neighbour Queenstown. Looking for a peaceful oasis? Well, you’ve found it in Wanaka! The town hosts a waterfront lined with charming cafes and bars, and the most endearing cinema Paradiso that actually feels as if you’re in somebody’s house with its comfy sofas and freshly baked cookies! ($15 adult ticket). Don’t miss it.
The town sits at the southern end of Lake Wanaka, providing an endless view of the azure waters and an incredible backdrop of the southern alps. It’s undeniably beautiful from every angle, and the best thing is, you can see the mountains from almost everywhere in the town!
I only got to skim the surface when it came to hiking in Wanaka. You might have heard of Roys Peak, one of the most photographed places in Wanaka. Well, out of all the months in the year, I was in Wanaka during the month that it’s closed for lambing season. Sucks! There are plenty of other alternatives, however, and I did manage to hike Mt Iron, which provides 360° views of the town.
Want to know more about hiking in Wanaka? Click here!
Lake Wanaka has all the elements of a peaceful oasis! I could spend hours here, simply looking at the view. You might be familiar with the most photographed tree in New Zealand, which even has its own hashtag! What began as a wooden fence post is now a lone tree determined to survive. Easily reached from the town in ten minutes, you can’t deny that is has an incredibly beautiful backdrop; it’s no wonder the tree attracts photographers from all over the world!
You can explore the lake by the available walking and cycling tracks, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not try paddleboarding or kayaking! These can be rented for $20NZD per person from the lakefront.
Even though I only spent a short time in Wanaka, so I’m definitely no expert, the little town captivated me with its quiet charm and incredible views. If someone told me I had to choose somewhere else to spend the rest of my days… well Wanaka, I’d choose you.
Would you like to visit Wanaka? If you’ve already been, what did you love about it? Which place in the world captured your heart? If you’ve enjoyed this post please share or comment in the section below!
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