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15 Absolute Best Hikes in Wanaka to Get the Best Views

15 Absolute Best Hikes in Wanaka to Get the Best Views

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There’s no doubt about it – Wanaka is home to some of the best hikes on the South Island of New Zealand. I visit from my hometown of Queenstown to go on tramping (what the Kiwis call hiking) adventures all the time. Seriously, sometimes I think I should just move to Wanaka!

As one of the best free things to do in Wanaka, there are so many fantastic hiking trails to choose from. In fact, there are too many to do them all! From trails that take you high above the clouds to those along lakes, you’re truly spoiled for choice.

With all these amazing trails at your fingertips, I thought it would be helpful to separate the best of the best – no more searching through multiple articles to find out which trails you should try next! So, in this blog, I’ve managed to narrow it down to the 15 best hikes in Wanaka, and I have to admit, I’m super proud of this list.

There are plenty of hikes to choose from, with everything from short and sweet lakeside strolls to a whopping 4-day hike that follows an old gold miner walking track. So, get your hiking boots ready, and let’s explore Wanaka’s best hikes!

15 Best Hikes in Wanaka

1. Isthmus Peak

View from the top of Isthmus Peak, Wanaka
Isthmus Peak is the perfect day hike in Wanaka if you’re up for a challenge.
  • Distance: 16 km return (10 miles)
  • Time Needed: 5-7 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Important Information: Trail is closed from 20th November to 20th December for fawning

Isthmus Peak is often compared to the nearby Roy’s Peak because it offers some of the best 360-degree views of Lake Wanaka you could ask for, as well as Lake Hawea and the Southern Alps. Like Roy’s Peak, this 16-km (10-mile) track with over 1000 meters (3,281 feet) of elevation gain is rated as difficult and requires quite the effort and fitness level to complete.

The track starts north of Hawea town and is a 30-minute drive from Wanaka town center and is a popular hike to do on a road trip between Wanaka and Franz Josef. The parking lot, which is off the SH6, is your starting point. From here, follow the poles that line the track.

This first part is one of the most difficult sections. Then comes the cow and sheep pastures which are relatively flat and easy – just watch out for the cow dung! Finally, you’ll come to THE most difficult section, the switchbacks, which are ultimately a series of steep inclines to the summit.

After this is what are known as the “false peaks.” A lot of locals will mention that the “false peaks” on this hike are a killer – because it looks like you’re at the end but alas you’re not! After these, you’re almost at the end, and you’ll need to climb over some rocks to the skyline ridge. This climb to the ridge is quite steep.

At the ridge, you will spot a sign for the Isthmus Peak Track. Be aware that the descent down can be hard on your knees due to the steep nature of the track. I always take hiking poles for this trail!

Worth Noting: You can mountain bike these tracks but on many sections you will have to dismount and push your bike.

Related Read: After all this hiking you’re going to be hungry. Be sure to check out a couple of the best restaurants in Wanaka!

2. Roy’s Peak

Clouds sit in a valley as seen from Roy's Peak
I never get sick of this hike!
  • Distance: 16 km return (10 miles)
  • Time Needed: 5-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Important Information: The track is closed for lambing from 1st October – 10th November each year

Roy’s Peak Track is one of my favorite trails of all time, and also one of the most popular things to do in Wanaka thanks to the power of social media! I mean, one look at the views from the top of Roy’s Peak, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. I’m not alone either – many consider it to be one of the best places to visit on the entire South Island and one of the most popular hikes in NZ.

This 16-kilometer (10 miles) track has a 1,300-meter (4,265 feet) elevation gain and is considered hard. The trailhead is located just 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from Wanaka township and starts from the Roy’s Peak parking lot on Mount Aspiring Road.

The first section of the track is steep and winding and leads through a farmer’s paddock. From here you’ll need to climb over a fence (there is a ladder) into the national park and continue again uphill via switchbacks through wild tussock until you reach the famous Roy’s Peak photo spot.

The views from this false peak of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring are so spectacular that you can expect to queue for a photograph – seriously!

Afterwards, it’s another 30-minute walk to the real summit which is often uncrowded due to the number of people at the famous viewpoint. I love having a bite to eat here as you are so high above Lake Wanaka.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you, as there’s no shop or café at the summit or on the way up. This is a day hike in Wanaka so, there are no overnight huts or camping on Roy’s Peak. If you are doing this hike during the winter in New Zealand, make sure to take crampons with you as it can get very icy.

As for when to go, I’d HIGHLY recommend getting to the summit for sunrise if you can. This means a super early start, but it’s so, so worth it. Just keep an eye out for rogue sheep in the dark while on the way up!

If you want to take a great trail and take it to a whole new level, then this Roy’s Peak sunrise helicopter safari might just be what you’re after! It’s not cheap, but the 5-hour experience is sure to be one you’ll remember for a long, long time. With a private guide and all transport included, this really is a once-in-a-lifetime type of tour.

3. Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain Track

Looking over Lake Wanaka on the Diamond Lake Viewpoint Track
Looking over Lake Wanaka! I wish I had better weather!
  • Distance: Diamond Lake Circuit 2.5 km (1.6 miles) / Diamond Lake Lookout 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) / Lake Wanaka Lookout 5 km (3.1 miles) / Rocky Mountain Summit Track 7 km (4.3 miles)
  • Time Needed: Between 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy/moderate

A 20-minute drive out of Wanaka will take you to the beautiful Diamond Lake. There are actually a few hiking trails at Diamond Lake that start from here, including a short walk around Diamond Lake, to Diamond Lake Lookout, Lake Wanaka Lookout, and the Rocky Mountain Summit Track. All of the trails begin from the parking lot and can be hiked on the same trip as they all link up.

From the parking lot, walk down the trail where you’ll be met with Diamond Lake. Here you can choose to walk around the lake or continue on to the other trails. The other three hikes start from the set of stairs and once on this trail, head to your right and follow the signage.

The first 15 minutes is up a steep winding track to the Diamond Lake Lookout, which offers stunning views over Lake Wanaka, Mount Aspiring, and of course, Diamond Lake just below.

Next, you can continue on to Lake Wanaka Lookout via a short detour. Here you can look over Lake Wanaka (pictured above). Finally, you can head for the summit on the Rocky Mountain Summit Track. This trail is the hardest and has a hefty elevation gain to the top. After heavy rain, it can get quite slippery and muddy, so don’t wear your nicest shoes.

The distances of each trail labeled above are totals, so you can actually visit all the viewpoints on the larger 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) walk (don’t add the distances together). You can see all the viewpoints in around 3 hours at a slow pace.

Related Read: Heading to Queenstown? Check out all the best road trip stops between Wanaka and Queenstown!

4. Grandview Mountain Track

Views of Lake Wanaka on the Grandview Mountain Track
Magnificent views!
  • Distance: 18 km return (11.2 miles)
  • Time Needed: 5-7 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Important Information: The track is closed for lambing from 26 September – 7 November

The track starts 6 km east of Hawea township, the Grandview Mountain Track is approximately 30 minutes from Wanaka and is the trail to hike for views over the vast Grandview Range. It’s considered a hard hiking trail due to its steep nature – you’ll be hiking up and down over 1,000 meters (3,281 feet)!

The track itself is mostly on a farm road, so it’s a nice gravel surface to walk along. You can also mountain bike this track. You will pass by a couple of beech forests on your way to the station at 1,260 meters (4,134 feet), then, it’s the final slog to the Grandview Mountain summit. From here, feel free to take in your awe-inspiring surroundings, including Lake Hawea, Lake Wanaka, and Mount Aspiring.

You can also continue on the Grandview Ridge Track for a much longer hike. From the summit, it’s a further 13 km (8 miles) to the Pakituhi Hut on the Grandview Ridge Track. Situated at 1260 m (4,134 ft) elevation, staying in the hut is the best way to adapt to the steep altitude gain. After spending the night here, it’s a steep descent to Lake Hawea via the Breast Hill Track.

The hut costs $10 NZD per adult and $5 NZD for youths aged 5-17, children under 5 are free. Make sure to book in advance as there are only 8 bunks within. You can book via the Mt Aspiring National Park Office.

If you can’t get enough of these views of Lake Wanaka (and I don’t blame you!), and you want to learn more about this gorgeous area, then why not try this full-day guided hike of the Wanaka High Country? With 4WD support, you’re free to hike as much as you like, making this trip ideal for families with kids or those who simply want to be able to enjoy the views without needing to do the entire route on foot.

I love that this is a private trip too, and you’ll be joined by an expert local who knows the area to the tiniest leaf! If you’re like me and have tons of questions about what you’re seeing, then it really doesn’t get better than exploring with a local guide.

Tickets for this tour cost $299 NZD per person, which includes transport and a delicious picnic lunch. It’s no wonder that this tour is one of the most popular guided walks in the area! You can check availability and book your tour online here.

5. Brewster Hut

A photo of the Brewster Hut, New Zealand
The lonely Brewster hut! too bad it was cloudy!
  • Distance: 10 km return (6.2 miles)
  • Time Needed: 3-4 hours up and 2-3 hours down
  • Difficulty: Hard/technical
  • Important Information: This trail involves a river crossing and bookings are required at the hut

This famous track begins at Fantail Falls, which is over an hour from Wanaka and is located within Mount Aspiring National Park. It’s one of my favorite stops between Queenstown and Franz Josef.

The trail to the Brewster Hut is somewhat technical and involves crossing over the stunning Haast River, so be aware that if the water levels are too high you may have to turn back (they rarely are in summer!) After the river crossing at the start, it’s a steep climb to the hut that involves some scrambling. This trail is short, but it’s considered hard and technical because of the terrain, so come prepared.

The walk to Brewster Hut can be done on a day hike, however, it’s more popular to book a night at the Brewster Hut. The 12-bunk Brewster Hut off the ridge to the right is one of the most beautiful mountain huts in New Zealand.

Depending on when you visit, you may or may not need to book Brewster Hut online in advance. Bookings are required from Labor Weekend (late October) to the 30th of April, however they are not required from the 1st of May through to Labor Weekend. Staying here costs $40 NZD per adult and $20 per youth (5-17 years).

If you plan on doing this overnight track, then definitely plan ahead as it’s very popular. If you do complete it, then you’ll be rewarded with one of the most epic experiences in New Zealand!

6. Rob Roy Glacier Track

Views of Rob Roy Glacier from the trail
What a view!
  • Distance: 10 km (6.2 miles)
  • Time Needed: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Important Information: Since June 2023, Rob Roy Glacier Track is currently closed for maintenance resulting from erosion. Completion is planned during the 2023/2024 summer season, and you can check for updates here.

The Rob Roy Glacier Track is a relatively easy hike that’s about a 1-hour drive from Wanaka. The popularity of this hike lies in the chance to see active glaciers. The track starts at Raspberry Creek parking lot 54 km (34 miles) from Wanaka on Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Road.

Be sure to check weather conditions before you leave as the last section of the road into the parking lot can be prone to flooding.

The track, as one of the best things to do in Mount Aspiring National Park, is truly stunning with highlights including glaciers, beautiful waterfalls, and the surrounding mountain peaks. A picture-perfect scene! From the viewpoint at the end, you can listen for avalanches and other signs of movement within the Rob Roy Glacier.

This is a relatively easy hike, with a gradual incline towards the glacier viewpoint. Worth noting is that, unlike the Roy’s Peak Track, this hike has lots to see along the hike itself – so, if you’re like me, be prepared to stop and take photos constantly!

For the first 2 km (1.2 miles) or so, you are walking along the river valley which is mostly flat. Then you will reach a signpost for the Rob Roy Glacier Track, cross the swing bridge, and after about an hour you will reach the Lower Lookout viewpoint.

From here, you can choose to continue uphill to the Upper Lookout. however, be sure to check for any avalanche warning signs at the bottom before you ascend.

This is easily one of the best short hikes in Wanaka that’s often missed due to it being a little further out of the way than many other trails. But don’t let the distance put you off, this is one unmissable trail!

7. The Motatapu Track

Bailey stands on the summit of Big Hill in Arrowtown, New Zealand
I’m almost in Arrowtown at this point.
  • Distance: 34 km (21 miles) one way
  • Time Needed: 3-4 days
  • Difficulty: Hard

History and hiking go together like hot chocolate and a cold day, and The Motatapu Track tells a pretty interesting tale! This challenging and historic track once linked Wanaka with Arrowtown, and as you walk it’s lots of fun to think about those who walked the same trail back in the mid 19th century.

The track starts from the Fern Burn parking lot which is past Glendhu Bay and at the end of Motatapu Road (a 20-minute drive from Wanaka). It’s best to divide this epic hike into 4 days – you can see my detailed breakdown below:

(Day 1) Fern Burn car park to Fern Burn Hut (7 km/4.3 mi)

The track winds gently at the beginning, following through grassy flatlands before climbing into the trees. From here you will notice the track starts to narrow and waterfalls feature heavily in this section (great photo ops!). Towards the end, the track enters the Stack Conservation Area briefly.

Follow the bush edge to the tussocks uphill and here is where you will find the 12-bunk Fern Burn Hut. A fee of $10 NZD per adult and $5 NZD for youths aged 5-17 is payable into the honesty box here (or you can get backcountry passes before you go). Children under 5 go free. It’s also worth noting this hut operates on a first-come-first-serve, but it’s rarely busy.

(Day 2) Fern Burn Hut to Highland Creek Hut (6 km/3.7 mi)

Day 2 starts to ramp up the challenge and is quite a bit tougher on the legs. The track leads through Tussock Country to Jack Hall’s Saddle at 1,275 meters (4,183 feet). From here it’s a steep downhill hike to the creek bed, crossing two ridges leading to Highland Creek Hut.

This is a 12-bunk hut and also operates on a first-come-first-served basis. The fee structure is exactly the same as the 12-bunk Fern Burn Hut.

(Day 3) Highland Creek Hut to Roses Hut (11 km/6.8 mi)

This is the longest day in terms of the distance you will cover. First things first, you’ll cross Highland Creek to the marked track which climbs over a creek to a spur. The track continues uphill along this spur where you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of the Motatapu Valley.

From here, the track quickly descends into a small gully and across a creek by following a narrow section of forest. It then climbs to a ridge off Knuckle Peak, which you will follow to the Motatapu River. Cross the wide flats to the 12-bunk Roses Hut.

It’s the same as the other huts on this track, with adults costing $10 NZD, and it’s first-come-first-served.

(Day 4) Roses Hut to Arrowtown (25 km/15.5 mi)

The track crosses a small creek and onto the old pack track that climbs the main ridge above Roses Saddle. In between the Motatapu and Arrow catchments, the ridge descends to the Arrow River. If the river level allows, you can follow the river into Macetown – this is quicker and passes historic gold mining-era buildings.

If the river is too high, you will need to take the track above the river which joins an old water race into Macetown.

NOTE: You may choose to break this down into two days and spend the night at Macetown Campsite, which has 36 non-powered tent sites.

From Macetown, a 15 km 4WD road winds its way to Arrowtown. In good conditions, the numerous river crossings can be crossed carefully by hikers. If the river is too high, then unfortunately you can’t cross and will need to turn around to take the Big Hill Track (one of the best things to do in Arrowtown) which begins 20 minutes from Macetown.

It’s a steep track, climbing above 1000 m (3,281 ft) but it has gorgeous views across the Wakatipu Basin. An adventure to say the least!

8. Lakeshore walk to #thatwanakatree

The lone Wanaka Tree during the day
Unfortunately, the tree has lost a few branches since this photo. The worst part is it was vandalized!
  • Distance: 2 km (1.2 miles)
  • Time Needed: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

#thatwanakatree is a tree so famous it has its own hashtag! It’s located just a 20-minute walk from Wanaka town center – simply follow the lakefront track to the left towards Roy’s Bay. Keep an eye out for the crowds gathered on the edge of the lake, and you’ve likely found it.

It’s a flat and easy walk so is suitable for all ages.

9. Sawyer Burn Track

  • Distance: 2.5 km (1.6 miles)
  • Time Needed: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

This hike boasts excellent views of Lake Hawea and the surrounding mountains. To get on the Sawyer Burn Track you must first walk the Kidds Bush Nature Walk, which starts from the parking lot to the right of ‘The Neck’. To get to this car park, turn off the SH6 onto Meads Road after Hawea township, the car park is 6 km (3.7 miles) along this road. It’s just over a 30-minute drive from Wanaka.

The first part of the Sawyer Burn Track is wide and easy and then the track zigzags uphill up through the forest to the bushline and across to the Sawyer Burn Hut. As you ascend, you will notice the views become better and better! Expect to spot Isthmus Peak, Mt Burke, and Wanaka Basin on your climb.

The basic Sawyer Burn Hut has only 2 bunks (no mattresses) and is first-come-first-served. It is free to stay here. Since the trail is so short, you don’t have to stay the night in the hut and can instead tackle this as a day hike from Wanaka.

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10. Liverpool Track

The Liverpool Hut
Spending a night here is a bucket list experience!
  • Distance: 15 km one way (9.3 miles)
  • Time Needed: about 6 hours each way
  • Difficulty: Hard

Without a doubt, one of my favorite huts near Wanaka is the Liverpool Hut. To reach the hut, you’ll need to walk the Liverpool Track which begins at the Raspberry Creek parking lot, just under a 2-hour drive from Wanaka township (same place as Rob Roy Glacier Track). Follow the Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Road West for 54 km (34 mi) to reach the parking lot.

The beginning of the track follows the West Matukituki Track to Pearl Flat. From Pearl Flat, you’ll then cross the swing bridge before making a steep uphill climb to Liverpool Hut (at 1,100 meters / 3,610 feet). Once you’re past the bush line, the track starts across the exposed shingle, rock, and tussock terrain before bearing left up an easier tussock slope to reach a knoll overlooking the hut.

Liverpool Hut needs to be booked in advance when booking in the busier months (Late October – 30th of April). Adults cost $25 NZD and youths (5-17) cost $12.50 NZD per night. Get in early, otherwise the hut will likely be fully booked, and this trail is far too long to do in one day.

Did you know that you can actually go on a jet boat ride here on the Matukituki River? This half-day experience combines a guided hike through Mount Aspiring National Park with an adrenaline-fueled jet boat ride down the river. Talk about one unforgettable experience!

The guided hike is also considered to be pretty easy and suitable for all levels of fitness, so if going all the way to the Liverpool Hut sounds a bit daunting, but you still want to experience what this gorgeous area has to offer, then this tour is for you. Plus you’ll come back with some awesome stories to tell the folks back home! Tickets cost $297 NZD per person and can be booked online here.

11. Mount Iron Track

The view from Mt Iron in Wanaka
The views from Mt Iron!
  • Distance: 4.5 km (2.8 miles)
  • Time Needed: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Looking for a cool and easy trail you can walk right from Wanaka town? Then the Mt Iron Track is a perfect choice! This short loop track takes only 90 minutes to complete and is just over 2 km (1.2 mi) from Wanaka town center each way. Despite being relatively straightforward, this is a must-do hike in Wanaka for the views.

Mount Iron itself rises 250 meters (820 feet) above Wanaka township and has awesome 360-degree views of the Southern Alps, Lake Wanaka, and the Pisa Range. The track begins from the Mount Iron car park off SH84, from here, take the left fork and climb uphill on the western side to the summit.

It’s a fairly steep climb up a rocky knoll to the summit, so appropriate footwear is a must. The hike down will take you to the eastern side of Mt Iron, so you get to see two different sides to Mt Iron.

Despite it being an uphill climb, it is still considered a relatively easy hike and is suitable for all levels of hiking ability. If you plan on walking from town, I’d allow an extra 30 minutes to get to and from the trailhead.

12. Waterfall Creek Track

view of Ruby Island in Lake Wanaka on a cloudy day with mountains in the distance
This is Waterfall Creek!
  • Distance: 2.5 km (1.6 miles)
  • Time Needed: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy

Starting at the West End of Roy’s Bay (near #thatwanakatree) this is a very easy lakeside track that passes famous sights like the aforementioned #thatwanakatree and Rippon Winery. Waterfall Creek Track is within walking distance from Wanaka township to the starting point at Roy’s Bay – just follow the lakeside track towards the Wanaka tree.

Your first stop once setting off from Roy’s Bay should be Wanaka Station Park. This is the perfect spot for a picnic! The track follows Lake Wanaka’s western shores until you reach #thatwanakatree. The track passes Rippon Vineyard and finally to Waterfall Creek, which has great views of Ruby Island.

It’s a very easy track and is stroller and bike-friendly. Plus, you can also extend your walk or bike ride and continue on the Glendhu Bay Track (which I mention below!).

Related Read: Heading to Mount Cook after Wanaka? Check out all the best stops on a road trip from Wanaka to Mount Cook. Once there, be sure to check out all the best hikes in Mount Cook too!

13. Eely Point Track

Walking on rocks in Lake Wanaka
Just another amazing view of Lake Wanaka!
  • Distance: Up to 1 km (0.6 miles)
  • Time Needed: Approx. 30 minutes return
  • Difficulty: Easy

This next hike in Wanaka is easily the shortest and most straightforward trail on this list! As the name suggests, the Eely Point Track is located in Eely Point Reserve a short walk from town. To get here from Wanaka, follow the lake past the Marina until you reach the signposted Eely Point.

It will take you about 20 minutes each way and is a very flat, easy walk that’s well-signposted from Wanaka township.

Once in the Eely Point Reserve, you can follow the Eely Point Track which only takes around 30 minutes to enjoy at a slow pace. Eely Point is popular with kayakers, jet skiers, and paddleboarders enjoying the calm waters. Be sure to pack a picnic for this walk as there are some gorgeous picnic benches to sit and take in the scenery once you reach Eely Point.

A further 5-minute walk from Eely Point will get you to Bremner Bay, a popular local swimming spot. After, you can actually continue walking all the way to Beacon Point (pictured above). I love this small beach area and the stroll through the reserve and along the lake is beautiful.

14. Glendhu Bay Track

Bailey walks down Glendhu Bay Track, a wide gravel path with trees on either side
The first part of the trail is easy!
  • Distance: 15 km (9.3 miles)
  • Time Needed: 3-4 hours each way
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Glendhu Bay Track is a well-trodden and popular walking track that follows Lake Wanaka’s shoreline. You can start the track at Ruby Island Road parking lot, just a 7-minute drive from Wanaka township.

It’s considered a moderate hike – for the most part, the trail is flat and easy, but there are some steep uphill climbs.

When you get to Waterfall Creek the track follows the terraces above Lake Wanaka and heads down to a little beach called Damper Bay – which is very popular with locals in the summer. This first section of the track is mostly uphill with several short but steep climbs.

You can walk down to Damper Bay if you wish and go for a refreshing swim, which I highly recommend. From Damper Bay (and after your swim) you will find the track becomes easier up to Glendhu Bay. There are spectacular views of Mount Aspiring here at Glendhu Bay so be sure to take some photos!

Worth noting is that mountain biking is permitted on this track, so, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for cyclists.

Note: This is one of those hikes where you don’t have to do the full thing to enjoy it. If I want to go for a leisurely stroll in Wanaka, this is where I go. I usually talk for about 30 minutes before turning around. This first part of the trail is flat and easy!

15. West Matukituki Track to Mt Aspiring Hut

Views on the West Matukituki Track
This is one hike you won’t see many other people on. Just open valleys and mountain peaks!
  • Distance: 18 km (11.1 miles)
  • Time Needed: 2 hours 30 minutes each way
  • Difficulty: Moderate

As one of the shorter overnight hikes, the West Matukituki Track to Aspiring Hut is a popular choice among hikers. This track also starts from the Raspberry Creek parking lot on Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Road.

The walk to Aspiring Hut is relatively easy and mainly takes you via the river flats. There are easily negotiated small bluffs that you must cross, but it offers great views up and down the Matukituki Valley.

On your walk, keep an eye and an ear out for paradise ducks, harrier hawks, and skylarks, among other birds. Because this track is quite open to the elements, make sure to layer up and bring wet weather gear (even in the Summer). The weather can change very quickly in these parts.

The historic Cascade Hut (you can’t stay here) can be seen from the last bluff and Aspiring Hut is twenty minutes beyond this. You can choose to stay the night at the 29-bed Aspiring Hut, but it must be booked in advance. An adult is $40 or if you’re an NZ Alpine Club Member it’s $20. You can book it online here.

Overall, this is one of the easiest and best overnight hikes for those looking for a relatively easy hike near Wanaka.

Easy Guided Hikes in Wanaka

Most of the hikes that I mentioned above are a little bit more on the challenging side. If you want more of a walk, or easy then there are a couple of highly-rated guided hikes you can choose from!

Maho Island Cruise and Guided Nature Walk

Views from Mou Waho Island Tour with Wanaka Water taxi
View from Mou Waho. Photo credit: Wanaka Water Taxi

If one of your favorite parts about hiking is spotting all the incredible species that call the area home, then I’m sure you’ll love this Mou Waho Island cruise with a nature walk! It lasts around 3 hours, and you’ll get the rare chance to explore the wildlife paradise that is Mou Waho Island. You can even find species of birds here that are extinct over on the mainland.

It’s both a cruise and hike in one, making it one of the best tours from Wanaka! Plus the hike is easy enough for most fitness levels and even children!

With tickets at just $159 NZD per person, this is an awesome opportunity to snap up some photos of some hard-to-find native species, or simply just to enjoy a well-crafted itinerary with a guide who knows the area well! You can check availability and book online here.

Ruby Island Cruise and Nature Walk

Lake Wanaka Cruises on Lake Wanaka
Photo credit: Lake Wanaka Cruises

Ruby Island is one of the beautiful tiny islands located in the middle of Lake Wanaka. To get there, you’ll need a boat – it is an island, after all!

So, this boat cruise and nature walk tour is easily the best option. Jump onboard a luxury catamaran that’ll take you out to Ruby Island. Once there, enjoy a nice leisurely walk, taking in the beautiful views and unique plant life.

The best part about this cruise? It is definitely one of the cheaper activities available in Wanaka at only $50 NZD per person. Although it is just a short, 1-hour tour, it can easily fit into your busy schedule!

You can book your spot on this Ruby Island cruise and nature walk online here.

Te Peka Karara/Stevensons Island

Stevensons Island cruise in Lake Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Lake Wanaka Cruises

Te Peka Karara/Stevensons Island is an uninhabited gem in Lake Wanaka, home to native birds like the endangered Buff Weka! The 11-acre (4.5-hectare) island has been a nature reserve since the 1920s when its last residents left, now attracting outdoor lovers seeking scenic views and serenity.

The only trouble is, since it is an island, you’ll need a boat to get out there!

On this 2-hour tour to Stevensons Island, you’ll explore Lake Wanaka on a luxury catamaran and before stopping at Stevensons Island for a nature walk. Along the way, your friendly guide will tell you stories of the interesting history of the island, including its previous inhabitants.

Also, be sure to get a photo of the lake from the unique vantage point at the summit of the island – it’s so peaceful up there.

Tickets for this experience cost $81 NZD per person, with afternoon tea included in your ticket price! You can check availability for this experience and book your spot online here.

Related Read: If you love hiking, then be sure to head over to Queenstown as well as Milford Sound. There are some amazing hikes in Queenstown as well as stunning hikes in Milford Sound that you can read about in my blogs!

Other Things to do in Wanaka

The view from Mt Iron in Wanaka
The views from Mt Iron!
  • Cardrona Valley Mountain Quad Zip up into the mountains on a quad bike! This tour makes sightseeing a little bit more thrilling as you’ll follow your guide through winding dirt tracks past lush farmland. Look to spot sheep and cattle and learn from your local guide about the area! You’ll stop to take in the panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains of the Cardrona Valley. It’s only a 2-hour tour so you will still have a lot of time for other activities.
  • Wine and Maori Culture Tour – You’ll get to taste wine right from the land of the indigenous Maori people in Wanaka. This tour is a half-day experience that includes round-trip transport so you don’t have to worry about driving! Just focus on the wine and beautiful landscapes as you visit the different wineries and enjoy the provided cheese platter.
  • Horse Riding Trek – This is the perfect leisurely sightseeing activity that takes you up into the countryside and past historical gold-mining locals for some fabulous views and information from your local guide about this area’s past. You’ll navigate through cattle farms and across a river and end the day with a free beer from the Cardrona Pub on the way back to base.
  • Jet Boat, Hike, and Raft AdventureThis tour is for thrill seekers! It’s a full day of activities including a jet boat and rafting ride on the Matukituki River and a nature trek to take in the beautiful landscapes of Mount Aspiring National Park where you’ll stop for lunch at the base of a glacier! It costs $379 NZD but it is more cost-effective than booking these activities separately.

Where to Stay in Wanaka

Room at the Archway Motel
One of the single rooms at the Archway Motels & Chalets
Kitchen at the Manuka Crescent Motel in Wanaka
Our room at Archway Motels & Chalets had a full kitchen!

There are tons of places to stay in Wanaka. Seriously, you’ll have so many options that it can be overwhelming. Luckily, I’ve stayed in Wanaka countless times and can recommend the accommodation options below:

Hawea Hotel – $

The Hawea Hotel is the perfect budget option for anybody looking to save a few dollars. That said, the rooms are really comfortable, clean, and offer incredible lake views! It is likely the best value for money hotel in Wanaka, with all rooms including a flat-screen television, a private bathroom, and a balcony too.

A one-night stay here starts from around $180 NZD per night, with budget dorm rooms as well as double rooms and family rooms available. You can check your dates and reserve your room here on Booking.com.

Archway Motel & Chalets – $$

When I travel, I often like to stay in apartment-style hotels so that I can cook my own meals. The Archway Motels & Chalets offers studio apartments, one-bedroom apartments, as well as two and three bedroom apartments for really reasonable prices! These are great for families or people traveling in groups (I stayed here last time I traveled with friends).

The motel is located only a short drive from town in a peaceful area – talk about holiday bliss! Room rates start at around $200 NZD per night, averaging around $350 NZD in the high season. You can check availability and book your stay online on Booking.com here.

Club Wyndham Wanaka – $$$

If you’re visiting Wanaka to relax and spoil yourself, then there’s no question that you should stay at Club Wyndham! This hotel is located right in town only minutes from Lake Wanaka and features an outdoor heated pool, waterslide, hot tub, sauna, and an onsite bar and café.

All rooms here come with a kitchenette or full kitchen, and many also offer lake views. You’ll also have access to their fitness center too if you fancy working up a sweat before hitting the sauna! Rooms here at Club Wyndham start at around $300 NZD and can be booked here on Booking.com.

For more detailed information, check out my blog all about where to stay in Wanaka! It includes different areas to stay in and the best hotels for all budgets!

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your JUCY or Star RV campervan or motorhome before the end of June 2024! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy! One thing to note is that this code is only valid for travel before Dec 21, 2024.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey from My Queenstown Diary stands by the Wanaka Tree
At the Wanaka Tree! Thanks for reading!

In my opinion, there’s no better place in the world to get outdoors and hike than Wanaka. Those were 15 of the best hikes in Wanaka and I hope you’ll get out and explore at least one of them!

Thanks so much for reading! I really hope this guide has helped you plan your hiking adventures and made choosing a little bit easier. If it has, then be sure to browse around more as I have lots more detailed blogs to help plan your trip around New Zealand, including hiking guides, road trip guides, as well as blogs on Queenstown, Wanaka, and more!

Or check out some of my most popular blogs below:

12 Things to KNOW About Cardrona Mountain Carting

Beautiful places in New Zealand

Queenstown adventure activities

Milford Sound Tours from Te Anau

Janey

Saturday 27th of August 2022

Really Great list of Wanaka hikes. Our family has holidayed and lived in Wanaka since the 60's, this is great coverage.

Bailey

Wednesday 7th of September 2022

Hey Janey,

Thanks so much!

Bailey