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Wanaka is like a lower octane version of Queenstown. The views, of a vast, tranquil lake and high peaks, are similar, and offer similar opportunities to skiers, boaters and hikers. But this is a much smaller centre, more a town than a city, and there’s a lot less buzz, though there are some lovely restaurants and bars opening up. Many of the best places to stay in Wanaka are small lodges, or B&Bs with only one or two rooms, but there are also larger properties if that’s what you prefer.
Wanaka has only recently started to become a popular destination, but this hamlet has always been close to the Mount Aspiring National Park, and on the stunning shores of Lake Wanaka, so it’s always had a lot of scenic appeal.
It has slso always had plenty of appeal for lovers of the great outdoors. There’s great fly fishing on the lakes and rivers surrounding the town and there are plenty of cycling routes, both mountain biking and road cycling. And of course you’re within striking distance of the snow fields of Treble Cone, Cardrona, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.
There are also many more outdoor pursuits available, such as canoeing, jet-boating, rafting, climbing and horse riding. And while Wanaka might not offer quite the same level of adrenalin fuelled delights as Queenstown, it’s still possible to sky dive or bungy jump here. You can also swim, sail or windsurf on the lake.
As far as highlights, there are some excellent day walks in this area, as well as some longer, multi-day hikes. And Wanaka also has a winery and a brewery. And an impressive military aircraft museum.
our pick of the best places to stay in Wanaka are ideally situated to make the most of this great town, whether you're here for the outdoor sports or simply to soak up the views.
For the views
- If you’re looking for a luxurious pot to unwind surrounded by spectacular views then the six room Whare Kea Lodge and Chalet is for you. Rooms have all the mod. cons. and more, plus there’s a hot tub a day spa and space to store your skis.
- Suite 51 is another peaceful apartment, converted from the owner’s own property. This time you get a whole floor, with spectacular views over Mount Aspiring, Treble Cone and Lake Wanaka.
For an active break
- Theloft@Hiddenhills is a boutique B&B with just one apartment - separated from the owner’s house. There’s a dining room, living area and outdoor deck and the owners have plenty of bikes and fishing rods available to use. There’s also parking space for a boat.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Wanaka for you?
Best Hotels in Wanaka
Theloft@Hiddenhills 1 rooms from $188Wanaka
Friendly boutique B&B on Lake Wanaka. One suite separate from main house, with dining room, living area and outdoor deck. Delicious breakfasts, comfy beds. Bicycles and fishing rods available for use, as well as parking space for a boat. Stunning mountain views, you won't want to leave.Great walks - Wanaka Outlet walk and cycle tracks along Clutha River 1km awayFishing - Free fishing rod hireRestrictions on childrenHideaway - Tranquil and intimate.
Suite 51 2 rooms from $261Wanaka
Just two individually designed suites with kitchen equipment for those who want to self cater. Lovely mountain views and easy walking distance from town. Close to wineries, walking and cycling tracks. Perfect for a romantic hideaway.Views - Over Lake Wanaka, Treble Cone and Mount AspiringRestrictions on children - This is an adults only propertyGreat walks - Good for walkers.Local markets - Good for local colour.
Whare Kea Lodge and Chalet 6 rooms from $452Wanaka
Luxury accommodation on Lake Wanaka. Ensuite rooms with under-floor heating, walk-in double-headed showers and contemporary local art on walls. With a hot tub, day spa and ski storage. Yoga and cooking classes available. Ideal for an active holiday or country escape.Views - To lake and Southern AlpsGreat walks - Around lakeRemote - Off the beaten track.Restrictions on children