Life in a resort town: Wanaka

Summer in Wanaka.

Summer in Wanaka.

Snowcapped mountains in winter and the stunning lake in summer, we ask the locals of Wanaka what it's like to live in this Central Otago resort town.   


Wanaka is located in the stunning alps of the South Island - a scenic 60 minute drive from Queenstown Airport.

Paddleboarding on Lake Wanaka.

Paddleboarding on Lake Wanaka.


Lake Wanaka is New Zealand's fourth largest lake and the centrepiece of the town. During summer it's heaving with water activities like stand up paddle boarding, waterskiing, jet boating, kayaking and swimming. Wanaka is also best known for other outdoorsy pursuits like hiking, horse riding, canyoning and mountain biking year round. Explore the rivers, waterfalls and native forests of the nearby Mt Aspiring National Park. There are various tracks to suit your experience and time frame - the day walk on the Rob Roy Valley Track is a favourite. During winter months, snow capped mountains draw skiers and snowboarders to the three world class ski fields - Treble Cone, Cardrona and Snow Farm.  

Wanaka food artisans The People's Bread chuffed with Cuisine award
* Celebrity chef Annabel Langbein on Lake Wanaka
Affordable housing a joke in Wanaka

Roys Peak, Wanaka.

Roys Peak, Wanaka.



Balance out wholesome outdoor activities with indulgent food and drink. The Wanaka climate has a reputation for producing delicious wines, which has now extended to include craft beer and a gin distillery. 

Wineries like the family run Rippon and Maude Wines offer a postcard vista as lush green vines stretch out to shores of the crystal clear lake. Craggy peaks of the Southern Alps stand tall behind. Visit the Cardrona Distillery and sample their gin called The Source - the spirit took home a gold medal at the New York Wine & Spirit Awards this year. 

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Foodies should book a table at modern Italian KIKA, sister restaurant to the popular Francesca's. Bistro Gentil also gets great reviews for it's French menu.

If you're around on a Thursday night head to the local Famers Market along Bullock Creek and source a loaf of multi-grain sourdough from The People's Bread, and pick a pastry or gingerbread biscuits from Pembroke Patisserie.

If you've got the budget for it consider skydiving or a glacier landing.


A very eclectic and creative mix of people. As of the 2013 consensus the population of Wanaka was 6,471 with sporting residents including former All Black's captain Richie McCaw and his Black Sticks fiance Gemma Flynn, team mate Ben Smith, and coach Steve Hansen. Olympic freestyle skier Jossi Wells calls Wanaka home and popular New Zealand chef Annabel Langbein built a cabin down there in 2000, now calling it her NZ base. Asked to describe Wanaka in three words the celebrity chef says: "light, grandeur, compelling".


The median house value is $900,000 plus. The rising trendy areas are Albert Town, North Lake and Timsfield.   


Snow bunnies will love winter and into early spring in Wanaka. September has the best weather, according to locals, when the snow is best and blue bird days are frequent. Having said that, summer can be crystal clear, perfect for a wine in the sun or lapping up the rays lakeside.  

In autumn, the Southern Lakes Festival of Colour (April 4-9, 2017) celebrates the arts - with a six day schedule of theatre, dance, music and visual arts. If snow sports are your jam, check out the Audi Quattro Winter Games from August 25. The biennial event is one of the biggest winter sports competitions in the world and features a massive lineup of free events and festivities. 

For more info see

 - Stuff


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