The drive from Te Anau to Wanaka was longer than we expected. Just like our drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound it was stunning, as the rest of the South Island.
One thing that went wrong for us (and at the same time right) was that we were too late to book a hostel in Wanaka. Every remotely affordable accommodation had no vacancies (so when planning for Wanaka: book in advance!). We weren’t sure if you can just drive up to the city and start going from hostel to hostel asking for a place to sleep or that’s too risky. And frankly, we felt a bit more comfortable knowing we have a place to stay.
For times when everything in Wanaka was booked, there are few locations between Queenstown and Wanaka where you can spend the night. We found a guesthouse in Cromwell, which turned out to be literally a guest house on owner’s private property. It was very sweet and quiet. We had our own little house with bathroom and terrace. The host showed us around, we unpacked and started our drive to Wanaka.
Wanaka is a little town, which is growing quickly. They say that Wanaka is going to be new Queenstown, and I think it’s quite possible. As many other towns in South Island, it’s located next to the lake and offers plenty of activities. You can rent a waterbike, kayak, go stand up paddling or biking around. As we love hiking and kayak rentals were closing down anyway, we decided to try and go up one of the mountains. First it was a bit hard to find information about the available routes, but we got the brochure with trails for hiking and biking. It turned out that quite a few options were available for different levels.
Here you can see some routes in the area:
Mt Iron Loop
Since it was late and we didn’t want to drive back when it’s dark, we decided to go on a short walk to Mt Iron Loop. That was a delightful and quite easy hike up the mountain with a view to the surrounding areas. There’s not many trees to give shade, so cover yourself with some sunscreen if the weather is good. This place seems to be something similar to a hare farm – we saw a lot of bunnies (mostly their bottom parts while they were running away from us). After the hike we decided to have dinner at one of the restaurants next to the lake, and then we drove back to Cromwell.
Next day, unfortunately, was very rainy, so we decided to drive straight to the Glaciers. Before we did that, we took a stroll to see the famous Wanaka tree. So many tourists were taking pictures of that specific tree that I felt bad for all the other trees. I must assure you, they are not less gorgeous, they just stand in a less scenic places (therefore neglected). Here’s a picture of #thatwanakatree, so you decide for yourself if you like it or not!
What did you do in Wanaka? Why did you like it? And last question: which one do you prefer, Wanaka or Queenstown?
Here are some more articles about New Zealand:
Ups and Downs of Tongariro Crossing