Wanaka it’s the city before Queenstown and the gate of mount Aspirine national park. The city which looks so small count actually 5 047 people. A city which remains very charming despite tourism growing this last few years, we found it really quite compared to Queenstown.
For our first time in town we enjoyed the Extravaganza fair, which was in town for the week end. On the road from September to April, every week end in a different city the group offers shows for kids, market with jewelery, clothes … and food stalls. It’s also a good occasion to discover the wonderful trucks in which the band is living. And on top of it, visiting this little fair is free !!
We ended our week end with a hike to the Rob Roy glacier, in the mount Aspirine national park. 10km return track, a bit sportive.
To go there you will have to drive 45 min on an unsealed road with some creeks to cross on the way, we advise you to check with the ranger the road condition, if the weather was bad you may not be able to drive trough these creeks. When you are at the carpark you just have to follow the signs, everything is really clear. The fun part of the hike is the beginning when you cross the fields with sheeps and cows looking at you with curiosity or ignorance. After crossing the suspended bridge the track goes up till the first view point, nice but the real show is further. Carry on walking even after the scary sign which tells you about avalanches risk (an other point you may want to check with the Rangers) and keep climbing during approximately 30 min. That is where you will get your reward : stunning views are here, in front of you with dozen waterfalls and the glaciers up there hanging on the mountain flanks.
When we came back the second time we hiked the Roys peak, a very popular hike close to Wanaka. The carpark is right after the city in direction of the mount Aspirine national park. It’s a 6 h walk return, 16 km with 1 200 m to climb up and then down. We started at the beginning of the day to avoid the midday sun but still suffered from the weather conditions. Too hot going up there and you can’t find much of shade. We advise you to carry a lot of water because the slope is really steep but it’s definitely worth it, the view all the way at the top of the peak is truly wonderful : panoramic view on Wanaka to realize the city isn’t that small after all, on the surrounding lakes and mountains.
You have to be aware the hike is really popular, you will not be the only one to enjoy the view. We discovered the long queue for the famous instagram picture #royspeak.
Another advice we got from the people we met on the road, it’s apparently even more stunning if you hike there for the sunrise.
On the shore of Wakatipu lake and with the Remarkables Mountain in the background, the city is famous for it’s outdoor activities. famous ski station in winter and to relax in summer, you can find a lot of extreme sports activities here. From the bungy jump to the speed boat on the lake, or visiting the vineyard of the area, everyone can find something to do in Queenstown.
It’s probably the most popular and busy city in South island and if you are looking for a job you can find oner easily. Even if the town is busy you can always find so quite place to rest, the beach in front of the lake or the botanical garden will be one of these wonderful place. By the way the little walk form the botanic garden to the wharf is really nice to do.
From the city you can find the start of various hikes, Queenstown hill for exemple with a really steep slope to start but which offers you a great view at the end. If you love mountain bike you will find enough tracks for you here also.
From Queenstown you can also go to Arrowtown, a beautiful small mining town where we had the impression to jump back in the past.
It’s also possible to visit the Milford sound from Queenstown but I will talk to you about that in my next article.
Good addresses and tips :
Fergburger : the most popular burger in town, probably the only one where people queue in the street for hours. We tried it, we like it but saying it’s the best burger of New Zealand, is entirely up to you!
Ivy & Lola’s : a little restaurant on the wharf with a really nice vintage decoration. We tried the late brunch and that was good. We really like the place.