Wanaka is located in the Southern Lakes District of the lower South Island and is considered the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park and the fabulous local ski areas.
Within easy commuting distance of Queenstown airport, visitors can choose to travel via road from Queenstown to Wanaka, however Wanaka does have its own airport with direct flights operating between Wanaka and Christchurch. Airfares can sometimes be purchased during specials for as little as NZ$80.00 one way. The Christchurch-Wanaka flight takes approximately 1 hour.
Queenstown does have more direct flights from around New Zealand, therefore upon landing at Queenstown Airport you can then hire a rental car or take the local Wanaka shuttle bus service. Wanaka ConneXions does the Queenstown to Lake Wanaka and return drive up to 5 times per day. You can also charter a flight from Queenstown to Wanaka, which normally takes around 20 minutes. Airport shuttle services are available from Wanaka airport into the township.
If you decide to drive to Wanaka, the following drive times are a guide only. Drive time to Wanaka…
- From Christchurch: 5 hours
- From Dunedin: 3.5 hours
- From Queenstown: 1.5 hours
- From Te Anau: 3.5 hours
- From Franz Josef: 4 hours
If you don’t feel like self-driving you can enjoy the scenic highlights while someone else does the driving! Shuttle buses and coach lines (such as Newmans and Intercity) operate to and from Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill and the West Coast with stop-offs in Wanaka.
While the Wanaka township is well positioned for easy walking to the majority of shops, cafes, restaurants and visitor information, you can still choose a variety of options for getting yourself around Wanaka.
Central Limos Wanaka offers probably the most well appointed style of local transportation with a stretched limousine service available for sight-seeing, wine trails and airport transfers. Another personalised chauffeur service is Alpine Class Tours; they offer a larger variety of services, including luxury ski field transport.
Hiring a rental car is probably the most popular form of self-transportation when spending time in Wanaka. There is a small selection of local rental car operators offering a range of vehicles to suit your budget and requirements, including compact cars, 4WD’s and mini-vans.
Lake Wanaka and township are easy to navigate and you will find quite a few people enjoy hiring a mountain bike to really enjoy and appreciate the invigorating fresh alpine air and stunning natural scenery.