Introduction

So long described as Queenstown's smaller and more demure sibling, Wanaka now feels grown up enough to have moved out of home and asserted its own identity.

What it does share with Queenstown is the fact that they're both lake and mountain towns bristling with outdoors and adventure opportunities. Wanaka's list of adventure options is impressive by almost any measure, except against the Queenstown ruler. The breadth and selection of adventures here might not be as comprehensive, but the lakefront is more natural and less developed – complete with a day-at-the-beach feel on sunny days – and the town centre has a more soulful atmosphere.

Despite constant growth – in both size and costs – Wanaka retains a fairly laid-back, small-town atmosphere. Days are invarably active here, but evenings are an invitation into a wave of new eateries and some truly quirky bars.