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5 Reasons to Visit Wanaka, New Zealand

5 Reasons to visit Wanaka

When people think about visiting New Zealand the first town that comes to mind is usually Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. While Queenstown may be great for those who love spending money on tours and excursions, Wanaka was infintley more amazing to visit for us. Wanaka is truly magical. With some of the best nature in the entire country, a small town feel, good food, and dozens of places to go get lost among mountains and lakes, Wanaka may be our favorite place to visit in all of New Zealand.

Here are 5 reasons you must visit Wanaka on your trip to New Zealand…

Driving into Wanaka, 5 Reasons to Visit Wanaka

The winding lakeside road heading into Wanaka


Mind blowing mountains and lakes

The mountains surrounding Wanaka are reminiscent of the mountains in Canada’s Yoho, Glacier, and Banff National Parks. These mountains are a jaw dropping silver color with vertical ridges, waterfalls pouring down them, and neatly groomed grass on the hills beneath them.

Driving into Wanaka, 5 Reasons to Visit Wanaka

Incredible views driving into Wanaka

No two mountains are the same, but they are all equally astonishing. And let’s not forget about the 2 gorgeous lakes in the area.  Both are incredibly teal blue and hikes like Isthmus Peak are the best way to experience their glory.


Isthmus Peak

While Roy’s Peak is the much more well known and popular track, it doesn’t compare to Isthmus Peak which will grant you with constant panoramic views of crystal blue lakes reflecting sheer mountain on the lakeshore. 

Isthmus Peak, 5 Reasons to Visit Wanaka

The incredibly blue waters contrast starkly against the green and yellow mountainsides

The hike is a strenuous 5-6 hours roundtrip, but with constant views throughout the hike, every step will be worth it.

Isthmus Peak, 5 Reasons to Visit Wanaka

Gabi overlooking the lakes of Wanaka from Isthmus Peak


Kidds Bush Campground 

This is one of my favorite campgrounds in all of New Zealand. This campground is absolutely beautiful with a nice rocky beach to chill on while taking in the incredible mountains that surround the lake.

Kidds Bush Campground, 5 Reasons to Visit Wanaka

There’s a shelter which is really nice for cooking when the weather is bad and it’s a perfect place to camp if you want to hike the nearby Isthmus Peak.

Kidds Bush Campground, 5 Reasons to Visit Wanaka

Strolling along the beach at Kidds Bush Campground

Related blog: Tips For Camping in New Zealand


Good Vibes

Wanaka has radical people. Unlike the bustling city of Queenstown, the town of Wanaka has the perfect combination of locals and tourist.

Wanaka town, 5 Reasons to Visit Wanaka

How could you be unhappy when you walk through town with views like this Photo via

With locals who walk around Main Street barefoot and carefree travelers who seek stunning nature and know better than to head to Queenstown, the town definitely has a happy, outdoorsy vibe. The town radiates more of a “joie de vivre” than any other town I’ve visited in NZ, except for possibly Raglan. 

Related blog: 7 Things to Do in Raglan


Good Food

While Queenstown is known for five star eateries, the hipster in all of us will be far happier at the breweries, bakeries, gelaterias, and chocolate shops in the quaint town of Wanaka.

Good food in Wanaka, 5 Reasons to Visit Wanaka

From cafes to breweries to chocolatiers, there is good food everywhere Wanaka

In Wanaka you won’t be overwhelmed by crowds in the streets and in lines at restaurants.


Find accommodation:



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Got questions about visiting Wanaka? Let us know in the comments below or share your favorite place in Wanaka!


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5 Reasons to visit Wanaka

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The Best Hikes to Epic Glaciers Around the World • Nomads With A Purpose

Monday 3rd of September 2018

[…] Cool things nearby: Head down to Wanaka to hike above the bluest lakes you’ll ever see.  If you could only go to 2 places in New Zealand, it would be Mount Cook and Wanaka. Check out the Best Adventures in Wanaka. […]


Monday 28th of May 2018

I haven't been to NZ yet but when I start planning my trip there, Wanaka would be my pick, especially now after reading your post, Gabi. The mountains surrounding Wanaka seems like a perfect climbing destination. Which one would you recommend for rock climbing?


Wednesday 30th of May 2018

I hear it's a fantastic climbing destination! We didn't have our climbing gear on this trip because it was so heavy to pac but we had originally planned on bringing it just so we could climb in Wanaka. Mountain Project had pretty good info on climbing there, here is the link if you are interested:

3-Week New Zealand Itinerary • Nomads With A Purpose

Sunday 29th of April 2018

[…] Related blog: 5 Reasons to Visit Wanaka, New Zealand […]

Deanne Hancock

Sunday 22nd of April 2018

Thanks for the great info! We'll be in New Zealand in early 2019 and it's great to hear about good bases. We're not campers or super outdoorsy, but we do love a place with a good vibe and good food that's a bit off the beaten path. Wanaka is definitely on our radar now.


Monday 30th of April 2018

How exciting! New Zealand is amazing and you will still love Wanaka! The amount of beauty in the town alone is enough of a reason to visit :)

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