Often compared to neighboring Queenstown, Wanaka is quieter, less developed, and said to be more “local.” But pretty Wanaka deserves attention in its own right. In a single day, you can chill out on a nearby island, go hiking in the mountains or kayaking on the lake, and sample the famous local wine. Here are some suggestions.
Morning: Walk or Hike
After breakfast and coffee overlooking Lake Wanaka, spend the morning stretching your legs in the fresh air. If you don’t want to go far, have mobility issues, or are traveling with kids, simply stroll along the lakefront. Alternatively, take a short cruise out to one of the islands in Lake Wanaka, such as Ruby Island or Mou Waho, where you can walk around and take in the views of the lake and mountains.
Afternoon: Try an Adventure Sport
In Wanaka, as in much of New Zealand, options abound for outdoor enthusiasts and thrill seekers. Spend the afternoon trying something new, or indulging in your favorite adventure activity: kayaking on the lake, hiking up to a viewpoint, jet boating, paragliding, horseback riding, riding in a helicopter, skydiving, or skiing in winter.
Night: Dine by the Lake
Although it’s a small town, Wanaka is home to plenty of restaurants and bars, many with lake and mountain views. The vibe is casual, but with some high-quality food on offer. Enjoy a glass or two of Central Otago wine over dinner. Don’t forget a jacket if you want to sit outside, as it can get cool when the sun goes down, even in summer.