At the northern end of the Southern Lakes region, 43-kilometre long Lake Wanaka glistens against the backdrop of Mount Aspiring National Park to the west and the Crown Range to the south. Once a slightly sleepy rural town Wanaka is now a vibrant centre offering its own medley of activities largely inspired by the landscape. In winter several ski-fields attract snow-bunnies from all over the country, and in summer people seeking activities such as walking, kayaking, mountain-biking, fishing, paddle-boarding and horse-riding fill the lake and hills.
Alongside all of this there is a distinct cosmopolitan flair to Wanaka, with an excellent selection of restaurants and cafés, interesting museums, art galleries and lovely boutique stores. There are several world-class vineyards close by, including New Zealand’s oldest – Rippon – which has an incredible vista over the lake.
Wanaka is also close to some charming historic goldrush towns – Alexandra, Cromwell and Arrowtown – and just an hour away, on the other side of the scenic Crown Range, is Queenstown. It provides a fantastic base whether you want to explore the region or simply relax for a couple days amidst the breath-taking scenery.