How often have you sat in the passenger side of your car and just scrolled on your phone, letting the world pass you by? It’s easy to do. But from that first drive over the steep ridges of Crown Range Road, to winding your way to the forests of Makarora on State Highway 6, you’ll be glued to the window rather than your phone.
Here you’ll pass sky-high waterfalls blowing mist over mustard coloured peaks and waterways so blue you’ll feel like someone turned the image saturation on too much.
For the princely sum of zero dollars you can stroll out of town towards Roys Peak and make your way to one of the country’s most iconic vistas. The track starts at the Roys Peak Track carpark, about 6 km from the Wanaka township on the Mt Aspiring Road. All in all it should take about 2-3 hours of your life for views that you’ll remember forever.
You’ve also got Diamond Lake Lookout hike, about 18.5km west of Wanaka town, on Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road. As you can see, it’s got a view that’ll have you questioning all your material possessions.
Let’s break this down. While city-slickers might beat the mid-week blues by treating themselves to a little retail therapy each weekend, in Wanaka you could spend the equivalent of a what you’d pay for, say, a pair of designer jeans and invest that cash into a life-changing Siberia Experience. Southern Alps Air will fly you in a Cesna over the wild Siberian Valley, drop you in the most beautiful middle of nowhere you’ve ever been and point you in the right direction of one of the most stunning 3-hour hikes you’ve ever been challenged to. The best part is once you reach the end the whole journey is topped off with an exhilarating jetboat ride over the crystal clear alpine rivers.
Wanaka is a foodie town with a range of restaurants to suit tastes from across the globe.
Keen for an Italian hit, make sure you book early for a table at Francescas, a popular hotspot that’s tough to get into in peak season but well worth the wait. Or try out one of Wanaka’s food trucks - Mexican never goes amiss. Or if you’re into a little more French gastronomy, grab a table in the courtyard and take advantage of those slow sunsets at Bistro Gentil.
Not only are the days long… but you’ll also stand in historic locations that have been barely touched for hundreds of years. On one day you can take a 4×4 tour through one of New Zealand’s oldest homesteads with Ridgeline Adventures or, you go even more Jurassic Park with Eco Wanaka Adventures and organise a tour to Mou Waho, an island reserve that’s completely predator free. So much so that the rare Weka birds will come right up and take food straight from your hands.
It’s THAT clean.