When you’re on vacation in beautiful New Zealand, a fab free family activity is to get out in the great outdoors and go for a hike. We’re lucky here in Wanaka, that there are so many amazing tracks with stunning views right on our doorstep. Whether you’re looking for a long, exhilarating walk to get the heart rate up, or a stroll around the lake with the family to get some fresh air, there are so many to choose from. And the best part is, you don’t have to go far to find somewhere beautiful to stretch your legs.
Here is a rundown of some of our favourite day hikes around Wanaka. Next time you come to Wanaka on vacation, why not try and tick a couple off?
Mt Iron – panoramic lake and mountain views
If you venture up Mt Iron first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon, you’ll pass plenty of Wanaka locals getting their fitness fix. This loop track hike takes around an hour and a half to complete, with stunning views at the top of Lake Wanaka and the beautiful mountains surrounding it. Why not head up for sunrise to start the day the right way, or for sunset, and relax at the benches at the top to watch the sun dip below the mountains. Great for all ages, it’s a firm family favourite of ours, and is close to the town centre.
Distance: 4.5km loop
Duration: 1.5 hours
Isthmus Peak – gorgeous views of Lake Hawea & Lake Wanaka
For us, Isthmus Peak is a much better alternative than the busy Roy’s Peak track (mentioned below), and a more enjoyable hike. The track to the 1,385m summit treats hikers to beautiful views of Lake Hawea on the way up, then, when you reach the top, gorgeous views over the top of Lake Wanaka as well. Why not take a packed lunch, and make a day of it? The views are spectacular, especially on a bluebird day like the one pictured. This track is also suitable for mountain bikes, so if you’re feeling energetic, rent a bike and get involved.
Distance: 16 km
Duration: 5-7 hours
Diamond Lake & Rocky Mountain – views of Mt Aspiring National Park
The track around Diamond Lake is a lovely, family-friendly hike. Those wanting a relaxing stroll can choose to just walk around Diamond Lake, then up to the lookout to view it from above. For those wanting to get the heartrate rising, continue up to the top of Rocky Mountain. The loop track boasts amazing views over the top of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. We always recommend this to guests, as it's a quieter hike than some of the others mentioned, with equally as beautiful views. We also recommend going early to avoid the heat and sun, as there isn’t much shade on the way up.
Diamond Lake lookout - 2km, 1 hour
Rocky Mountain - 7km, 3 hours
Rob Roy Glacier – explore Mt Aspiring National Park
Getting out in Mt Aspiring National Park is a must-do when on vacation in Wanaka, and the hike out to Rob Roy Glacier is a beautiful one. Starting at Raspberry Creek car park, an hour’s drive from Wanaka town centre in the national park, the track meanders through the valley before crossing the Matukituki river & heading up to the glacier. The views are sensational! Watch out for the cheeky Kea at the top – these Alpine parrots are stunning, with the most gorgeous colours on their wings, but they love to pester tourists for their snacks! Another great walk to take a picnic and enjoy the view before the walk down. This walk is also great for families as once you cross the bridge and start the climb up, the track weaves through the valley under the cover of the trees, so you’re sheltered from the hot summer sun.
Duration: 3-4 hours
Roy’s Peak – famous views of Wanaka and Mt Aspiring National Park
Roy’s Peak is one of the most famous of Wanaka’s walks. Chances are you will have seen photos of this view before you’ve even got to New Zealand! People brave enough can expect a lung and leg-burner of a hike to the 1,578m summit, but will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. Be prepared for the 16km return trip and take plenty of water and snacks, and of course (most importantly) your camera! We recommend heading out early in the morning for this hike, to beat the sun (there’s no shade on the way up) and to get a space in the car park! It's such a popular walk now, it can be hard to get a spot to park. There are shuttles from Wanaka town centre out to the start of the track also, which can be an easier alternative.
Duration: 5-6 hours
If this is enough to persuade you to come for a holiday, then get in touch with us and we'll help you plan your dream trip to Wanaka!