So, you’ve been thinking of taking a trip to Wanaka, the much-photographed town nestled in New Zealand’s South Island. The allure of its pristine landscapes, crystal-clear lakes, and majestic mountains has beckoned you to this idyllic destination.
But as you plan your adventure, one crucial question emerges: How many days should you spend in Wanaka to make the most of your visit?
How many days should I spend in Wanaka?
It’s best to spend at least two days in Wanaka. This duration strikes the perfect balance, allowing you to delve into the town’s outdoor wonders and embrace its serene ambience fully.
In just two days, you’ll have ample time to immerse yourself in the natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation that Wanaka has to offer. Below, we’ll explain why by giving you a sample itinerary for those two days.
Day 1: Hiking Roy’s Peak
You might want to kick off your Wanaka adventure with an unforgettable hike up Roy’s Peak. This iconic trail, although challenging, offers rewards that are nothing short of spectacular.
You see, this trail leads you from the tranquil shores of Lake Wanaka to the majestic summit of Roy’s Peak, treating you to breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding landscapes.
Here’s how you’ll spend your first day.
1: Getting to the Trailhead
To embark on this adventure, head to Mount Aspiring Road, approximately 6 kilometres from Wanaka’s town centre. The trailhead boasts a parking area, but be aware that it can fill up quickly during weekends and peak seasons.
Arriving early is your best bet, or you can park at the Waterfall Creek car park and enjoy a 2-kilometre walk or cycle to the trailhead.
2: Hike the trail
The journey to Roy’s Peak commences with a steep ascent through farmland, offering your first taste of the challenge ahead. After approximately 30 minutes, you’ll reach the conservation area boundary, where the terrain levels out.
As you continue, you’ll traverse tussock grasslands blessed with panoramic views of Lake Wanaka and the encircling mountains.
The trail gradually steepens as you approach the summit, but in turn, the scenery becomes increasingly awe-inspiring. The final stretch to the peak may be demanding, but the views that greet you at the top are truly unparalleled.
3: Enjoy the Summit
Upon reaching the summit, a breathtaking spectacle awaits. You’ll be surrounded by stunning 360-degree vistas encompassing Lake Wanaka, the majestic mountains, and the sprawling expanse of Mount Aspiring National Park.
It’s an ideal spot to rest, savour your packed lunch, and immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring scenery.
How hard is it to climb Roy’s Peak?
Roy’s Peak is not too hard but it presents a moderately challenging day hike for outdoor enthusiasts.
The hike features a notable elevation climb, ascending 1,258 meters (4,127 feet) from the base to the summit. In total, the trail spans a distance of 16 kilometres (10 miles).
To fully enjoy this adventure and tackle its demands comfortably, it’s recommended to be reasonably fit and prepared for the ascent.
Day 2: Enjoying Outdoor Activities
Your second day in Wanaka offers a plethora of activities that will allow you to make the most of your time in this serene town. In our itinerary, you can enjoy everything from the tranquillity of lakeside moments to the allure of captivating destinations.
Morning: Lakeside and Ruby Island Stroll
Begin your day with a leisurely walk along Lake Wanaka, starting at the Wanaka Lakefront and heading south toward the iconic Lone Tree. This tree is a popular spot for photos, so be prepared to share the space with fellow tourists.
Continue your lakeside journey southward to reach Ruby Island, a small island in the middle of the lake known for its diverse birdlife. You can access it via kayak, paddleboard, or a ferry from the Wanaka Lakefront.
Afternoon: Lavender Farm and Puzzling World
After a satisfying lunch, make your way to the Lavender Farm, a stunning location featuring over 50,000 lavender plants.
Take your time to wander through the vibrant fields, snap some captivating photos, and perhaps even purchase some lavender-based products.
From the Lavender Farm, venture to Puzzling World, a unique attraction brimming with optical illusions, perplexing puzzles, and engaging games. It’s an ideal destination for a few hours of fun and mental challenges.
Evening: Dinner and Mount Iron Hike
Before evening descends, embark on the Mount Iron hike – a short but invigorating climb offering breathtaking views of Wanaka and its surroundings.
The wide gravel path makes footing very easy and is a far more relaxed trail considering how consistent the climb is. Plus, it’s a really great place to be in during sunset if you really want to get spectacular views from the top.
The hike typically takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete. We’d advise going there in the afternoon, seeing the sunset, and then making your way back carefully and with torches, to ensure you don’t lose your footing.
After the hike, head back to Wanaka’s town centre, where you can choose from an array of restaurants to satisfy your dinner cravings and refuel!
So, there you have it. With an organised two-day visit, you’ll open the door to a world of possibilities in Wanaka.
However, don’t be afraid to expand your trip beyond these suggested itineraries. Wanaka’s offerings are as vast as its breathtaking landscapes.