Located inside the bottom half of New Zealand’s South Island, approximately an hour’s pressure from Queenstown, Wanaka is tucked beside its namesake lake and ringed by way of snowcapped peaks. The small city (populace roughly eight,400) crackles with fresh air and hums with adrenaline, making it an outdoor adventurer’s dream. Every season brings its own beauty, from spring‘s vivid green carpet at the mountain slopes to fall’s moody morning mists and golden foliage. (Read more approximately considered one of New Zealand’s most epic drives.)
No depend the time of yr, citizens and vacationers discover masses of heart-pumping methods to take inside the surroundings, whether it’s strolling, by using boat, atop skis, or in a antique biplane. Fair caution, though: You might also discover yourself making plans to make a everlasting pass.
From the ground
The gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, Wanaka gives more than 460 miles of trails. Locals often hoof it alongside the Mount Iron Track, a 547-foot climb that rewards efforts with 360-diploma views of the town and Lake Wanaka. Most travelers make a beeline to the Instagram-well-known Roy’s Peak Track, but the Rob Roy Glacier Track and the Diamond Lake trails function the same eye-popping perspectives with fewer crowds. Pro tip: The area’s splendor and the proximity of wilderness to metropolis can lull first-timers into a false feel of security, so stop by means of the Mount Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre in Wanaka to get the lay of the land. Local agencies can arrange guided hikes.
On the water
Lake Wanaka is a 28-mile-lengthy ribbon of indigo plunging 1,020 toes deep. Its temperatures run cool, however that doesn’t deter locals from crusing, waterskiing, fishing, and boating. For a relaxing creation to the lake, hop aboard an Eco Wanaka cruise to the island of Mou Waho, which has its own lake. Wanaka River Journeys provides jet-boat rides up ice-blue waterways which might be too shallow for conventional craft. Another pleasant diversion? Renting a kayak from Paddle Wanaka on a late afternoon in the summertime, when the warmth is at its most powerful. Take a fresh waft out to the lake’s Ruby Island, a famous spot for picnicking and taking walks that’s much less than a mile from the shore.
In the air
Hands down the exceptional manner to peer Wanaka is from excessive up. The sheer scale of untamed beauty that stretches out beneath is jaw-losing: glaciers grasp to craggy peaks, tarns (glacier-formed mountain lakes) gleam like gem stones, and a curtain of mist hangs over the Tasman Sea coastline. With an airport some miles from metropolis (currently for small aircraft best; no commercial flights), it’s smooth to e book an day trip on a helicopter, Cessna, or Forties open cockpit Tiger Moth for a scenic flight, heli-hike, heli-bike, or heli-ski. During winter (June thru September), skiers take to the powder at nearby sites together with Cardrona and Treble Cone for downhill and Snow Farm for go-united states. (Discover the first-class locations to snowboard and surf in New Zealand.)