Beautiful scenery, tramping and skiing opportunities, and a huge roster of adrenaline-inducing activities have transformed the lakeside town of Wanaka into a year-round tourist destination. Travellers come here as an alternative to Queenstown, and while some locals worry their home is starting to resemble its hyped-up Central Otago sibling across the Crown Range, Wanaka’s lakefront area retains a laid-back, small-town feel. It’s definitely not a sleepy hamlet anymore though, and new restaurants and bars are adding a veneer of sophistication. Note that Wanaka wakes up in a big way for New Year’s Eve.
Wanaka is located at the southern end of Lake Wanaka, just over 100km northeast of Queenstown via Cromwell. It’s the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park and to the Treble Cone, Cardrona, Harris Mountains and Pisa Range Ski Areas.