Visitors enjoy Lake Wanaka for its year round alpine appeal, world-class ski fields and the vast array of outdoor activities and water sports.
Friendly and vibrant, Wanaka is an incredibly popular place to visit, especially if you prefer to avoid the huge numbers of tourists and tourism commercialism that many believe is beginning to smother nearby Queenstown.
Considered one of New Zealand’s best all season’s resort, Wanaka is located in the Southern Lakes region of the lower South Island and is nestled on the shores of a stunning clear lake with breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains, including the towering Mount Aspiring.
Wanaka has an exciting early history and was once a small Maori settlement during the summer seasons of the 1800’s. It is believed that Nathaniel Chalmers was the first European to see the lake in 1853. The famous gold rushes in Central Otago introduced a huge demand for timber at the lake, however when gold was discovered in nearby Cardrona Valley, hundreds of miners were ferried across the Clutha. However most of the gold rush activity in the area fizzled out in the late 1870’s. Wanaka was originally named Pembroke but the town was renamed Wanaka in 1940.
The township of Wanaka offers a friendly ambience with plenty of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops to satisfy any cravings you may have for city action. Vibrant cafes, bars, nightclubs and restaurants offer fine cuisine and award-winning local and New Zealand wines. However, if your taste is for relaxing in a beautiful environment then the tranquil surrounds of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National park are bound to appeal. Full-on festivals and concerts are also hosted throughout the year, including the world famous Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow.
Other world-class attractions in the Wanaka area include Mount Aspiring National Park, Lord of the Rings tours, Cardrona Hotel, New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum and internationally recognised ski fields. There is a multitude of adventure and sports activities, including summer lake activities and top class winter skiing or snowboarding at Treble Cone, Cardrona, Snow Farm, Snow Park and Harris Mountains – all within easy driving distance from the Wanaka township.
The town centre of Wanaka is extremely visitor-friendly due to the compact and easy to navigate layout of the area that allows visitors to enjoy tourist shopping and dining at a leisurely pace. From central hotels, motels and holiday apartments it is easy to walk to most of Wanaka’s entertaining and dining venues.
A short stroll, cycle or drive can take you to so many exciting activities and attractions; the challenge in Wanaka is to decide what to do first. Between sightseeing jaunts, shopping, mountaineering, clubbing, skiing, wine tasting and fine cuisine, there is always the sublime peace of Lake Wanaka to escape to – it is the focal point for relaxation in this township.
Visitors are sure to fall in love with Wanaka and the abundant supply of things to see and do – all year round!