Wanaka

Heaven in summer; paradise in winter:

Do us a tiny favour- open a world map or sit in front of a globe. Now, try to locate the town of Wanaka. Chances are that most would think of Wanaka as an insignificant, small region in New Zealand, overshadowed by its sister-town of Queenstown. Of course, the world map is nothing but a mere scaled geographical representation of this beauty in question. One truly needs to look deeper than the surface at this place. We guarantee an amazing discovery made up of beautiful snow-capped mountain with fresh blue waters cutting through narrow valleys. Wanaka is like the Sleeping Beauty, its beautiful when left undiscovered, but it is sure to enchant you when woken up from its sleep and seen for what it really is.  

Wanaka is the much-preferred destination for all winter lovers. If it is a highly favoured town in New Zealand, there are more than enough reasons for it. And no, we’re not talking of just skiing in the snow.

We’re also talking about mesmerizing views, adventure sports, delicious meals and so many other attractions.

Things to do in Wanaka:

Adventure Sports:

Wanaka Peak

Hike to the Peak:
If you are looking to satisfy the wanderlust in you, the Roys Peak hike in Wanaka, New Zealand, should be among the top three things you do. This peak is located just ten minutes away from Wanaka town, and one would not need any special travel arrangements. The hike is simple, so much so that one can see the peak even from the car park. What one would get at the end of the hike is a picturesque, totally Instagram-worthy view of the hill-top, with lakes and peaks surrounding them. Just a tip for all the winter babies, Roys Peak in winter is a scene straight from heaven.

Wanaka Matukituki

Get Seat Boat on Matukituki River
- New Zealand has several options for memorable boating experiences. Queenstown is an option that is much preferred by tourists as well as locals. But, if one is looking for something more personal and secluded, without being the centre of attention, then Wanaka is the place to go! A short drive towards the outskirts of the town leads to the Matukituki River where there is literally no limit on nature's beauty or your jetboat’s speed.

Settle for nothing but heli- skiing in the Alps. Wanaka is the perfect holiday destination for all winter babies who enjoy winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. One thing everyone must remember though, is that to grab a free, spacious spot, it is important to reach there, super early. 

We all know so much about the skiing, but, what do we actually know about heli-skiing?

Heli-accessed skiing is double the fun and double the adventure. Imagine being lifted up to the top of the peak, only to be dropped into seemingly bottomless, cotton-like snow.

Cruise through the sunset - If one is looking to spend a magical day amidst the silent sea and the soft-setting sun, then there’s nothing more relaxing than a sunset cruise. The one-hour cruise that leaves from the jetty in the downtown area is highly recommended but do book in advance, especially during the peak season.

Popular Tourist Spots:

Priceless fun in Puzzle Place: For all families planning their annual vacation in Wanaka City, Puzzling World is the one place one just cannot miss! It has been one of the most famous family attractions for about forty years now.

The place is known for its puzzling rooms, optical illusions and 3D maze grounds. One would also find mysterious objects, paintings and reversible figures in its Sculptillusion Gallery. And, of course, there is the Leaning Tower of Wanaka which is… well, one should just go see it for themselves!  

Other than these popular mainstream activities, the city of Wanaka also offers varieties of mesmerizing treks and hikes. One can walk through various parks and flower fields to spend a quiet day with nature. For all old-school travelers, there is Rippon, the oldest vineyard in Wanaka, famous for its views as well as wines.


Cultural Festivals:

In the upcoming summer months, Wanaka is full of tourists looking to spend some memorable time among the locals, doing things the locals enjoy doing. One of these things is the music festivals that Wanaka is famous for. Rhythm and Alps (R&A) is one of the biggest music and camping festivals to take place in the area. Apart from this, there is also the Tuki Music Festival which showcases musical talents of all genres and types from across New Zealand. 

To do it like the locals, one must definitely not miss the Wanaka Rodeo, or the Wanaka Beer Festival for that matter! It’s time to clink mugs overflowing with craft beers from local breweries across New Zealand. 

During the winter months, Wanaka is host to the two biggest events- The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival and the NZ Winter Games.

The Film and Book Festival is especially recommended for cinema and literature enthusiasts for it is a ten-day celebration of adventure sports and lifestyle. It’s the haven of cinematic movies, special screenings and book discussions in a heavenly setting in snow-covered Wanaka.  

And well, the NZ Winter Games are everything the event’s name suggests- stars from Winter Olympics, Paralympics and XGames come to Wanaka to participate in multiple winter sports events. 


Cuisine - Feasting in Wanaka:

Many people have a misconception that given the size of the town, they wouldn’t find much variety when it comes to restaurants and bars. But all travelers will be in for a pleasant surprise when it comes to merry-making and feasting in this town. Wanaka has something to please all palettes - whether it is spicy Mexican food one’s soul is craving for, or some flavorful Indian food!  There are also plenty of breweries, pubs and local bars to give tourists a taste of not just some localized cocktails, but also a taste of Wanaka’s cultural (and party) vibe!

Interesting facts about wanaka:

We bet you didn’t know this about Wanaka-

  • Wanaka is a part of New Zealand, which happens to be the first country to declare sign language as one of its official languages!
  • The town of Wanaka has featured in many films, including the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Legend of S, and A Wrinkle of Time.
  • The name of the town- ‘Wanaka’ is said to be derived from the word ‘Wanaka’ which is a South Island form of wananga. This word means sacred knowledge or a place of learning. And, Wanaka truly is a place of learning with the self, about the self.
  • Wanaka is also home to ‘That Wanaka Tree’, which is not just every photographer’s dream, and every traveller’s desire, but is also a classic piece of the Kiwi nomenclature. Just in case you’re wondering, That Wanaka Tree is a lone tree that grows in the shallow waters of Roy’s Bay on the southern end of Lake Wanaka.

Location of Wanaka:

Surrounded by mountains, Wanaka town is situated at the southern end of Lake Wanaka. To the south-west of this scenic town lies the Crown Range, touching the town of Queenstown. And, towards the north of Wanaka, one would find easy access to the Haast Pass that cuts through the Southern Alps. The towns of Omarama and Twizel lay towards the northeast of this tourist town. 

As one would go further down South, they would find the Southern Alps visible more prominently. 

Relatively unknown is Lake Hawea, a parallel glacial valley very close to Lake Wanaka. This valley has very recently become home to a developed settlement of around 1500 people. 

Best time to visit Wanaka:

The one thing that all tourists allot most importance to while deciding upon their next holiday destination is the weather. And, when it comes to weather, Wanaka has a little surprise for all of us. Wanaka experiences four seasons- summer, autumn, winter and spring - and has something different to offer to its people in those four seasons. 

For all you winter buffs who like the feel of snow under their feet and the cosy comfort of padded jackets, winter starts in Wanaka in early June, and rests till the end of August. The average temperature during these months is 10 degrees Celcius. 

The spring season is generally from the first week of September till the end of November, and the average temperature during the spring is around 17 degrees Celcius. One will find that the snow recedes during this season but does not disappear altogether. Nonetheless, even this season offers excellent views of snowy peaks.

Summertime in this beautiful town starts in December and lasts till the end of February. The average summer temperature is 24 degrees Celcius. 

What follows summer is the cool and pleasant autumn, which begins in March and lasts till the end of May. Locals believe autumn to be the perfect season for outdoor activities for it is neither too hot nor too cold.

How to Reach Wanaka:

For international tourists, there are three international airports in proximity of Wanaka: Queenstown, Dunedin and Christchurch airport. The flight services at these airports are facilitated by various national and international airlines, and the same is supported by a well-connected bus system. The closest international airport is the Queenstown airport, which is only a 45-minte drive from Wanaka. The domestic flights here are serviced by Air New Zealand and Jetstar. International flights are serviced by Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar.

And trust us when we say this, the long flight to Queenstown is worth the 45-minute drive.

Wanaka also has its own airport that supports charter flights and scenic flights. 

The town of Wanaka is well-connected to nearby towns and cities through efficient bus services. Intercity daily-coach buses from Wanaka to Queenstown, Te Anau, Christchurch, Dunedin and the West Coast are easily available.

History of Wanaka:

Clarke Glacier

How plausible is it for one to believe that Wanaka was created through gigantic glaciers, and that too 10,000 years ago… long before humans even had an inkling of this land? The first people to discover this land were the Māori people, who are said to have stumbled across the area while fishing and hunting for birds. Over time, however, the Māori people were overshadowed by various European settlements, led by several travellers and businessman. 

Tourism is said to have begun in the town of Wanaka in 1867 when the town saw its first hotel by Theodore Russell. This was just the beginning of what was Wanaka’s long (and fruitful) journey towards being a famous vacation spot for tourists around the world. The infamous and extremely indisposable Haast Pass Highway that links the West Coast and Otago, was completed in 1965, after 30 years of grueling work. Of course, this highway meant new avenues for the local people as well as globetrotters. Next in the pipeline was the opening of the Treble Cone Ski area in 1968. True to its reputation, this Ski resort has retained its importance, respect and clientage over the years. The year 1978 also saw the successful establishment of Cardrona Alpine Resort.

Owing to many commercial factors clubbed with natural factors such as continental climate, Wanaka established itself as a popular tourist destination.

Language Spoken

English

Currency used:

New Zealand dollar

MAR-MAY 17 to 21oC
DEC-FEB 18 to 25oC
SEP-NOV 22 to 24oC
JUN-AUG 13 to 16oC

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Best Wanaka Tourism Guide

Choose Wanaka holidays to get swept off your feet by the breathtaking beauty of Lake . Wanaka tours are for tourists who want to know how it feels to have the ultimate Kiwi experience.

Visitors get to the town to avail Wanaka travel packages on buses from all major cities on South Island. The nearest international airport is in Queenstown, which is connected to cities in Australia and New Zealand.

To get a feel of the place, people going for Wanaka holiday packages can walk around the town. It’s easy to visit the shops and restaurants on foot, though you may have to board buses to travel further and see the attractions of Wanaka  . While within the town, you can hire bicycle for your  tour.You must travel to this place see the Puzzling World. Its main feature is the Great Maze, which is 1.5 kilometers long.

The place has a number of other interesting stuff, including optical illusions. Warbirds Museum, which features fighter aircraft and stories of New Zealand’s fighter pilots, is an educative stopover during any trip to Wanaka. Check out the restaurant that was built on what was the site of a jail with Wanaka vacation packages. The Finchey’s Bar and Restaurant is located in downtown Wanaka.

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