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Wanaka, New ZealandWanaka Scenic Highlights

Wanaka | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

With mountains on all sides, and two perfect lakes at its centre, Lake Wanaka is scenic in any season. Hike, drive or fly to viewpoints for true appreciation.

Wanaka Scenic Highlights Overview

You'll never forget the extreme blueness of the autumn skies and the wild colours of the autumn leaves in Wanaka. On a tranquil day, and there are many at this time of the year, the lake reflects the golden glory of the poplar and willow trees. Spread your picnic rug and give your camera a serious work out. As winter approaches, the mountains slip into their cloak of white to add another dimension to the fantastically beautiful landscape.

In summer the long hot days with little rainfall and low humidity make Lake Wanaka a very appealing playground. The trees wear their fresh green leaves, and the tussocky high country is bleached blonde and gold. Wanaka's summer evenings are beautifully warm with long twilights.

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Cardrona Valley to the Crown Range

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Lake Wanaka, New Zealand
Lake Wanaka
Photographer: Rob Suisted
(www.naturespic.com)

The 25 kilometre scenic drive up the Cardrona Valley leads through historic gold fever country to the marvelous Cardrona Hotel (1868), now a restaurant. Descendents from the gold rush still live in the valley as farmers.

Today Cardrona Valley is a place for horse trekking, hiking and skiing. The Cardrona Alpine Resort is known for its dry snow, wide slopes and steep chutes. Nordic skiing at the Waiorau Snow Farm is an inspired way to enjoy the winter landscape.

Cardrona Valley merges with the road over the Crown Range which, at 1,121 metres, is the highest main road in the country. It's the quickest way to get to Queenstown and the views are incredible. The green waters of the Kawarau River can be seen snaking their way along their course far below.

» Cardrona Valley Information

» Cardrona Valley Travel Directory

Climb the Flanks of Mount Iron or Mount Roy for Spectacular Views

Mount Iron (because it resembles an iron) is a local landmark. It rises abruptly from the gentle slopes that lead away from Lake Wanaka. A remnant of past glaciation, Mount Iron now offers a spectacular vantage point from which to view the surrounding valleys, peaks, rivers and lakes. A circular walking-track leads through tussock and manuka shrubland, bathed in sunlight, to the flat-topped summit and drops over the steep southern edge of the 'iron'. Horse-treks are also available in the area.

Mount Roy is just a few minutes' drive from Wanaka, yet rises to over a thousand metres. It offers an exhilarating full-day walk. A zigzagging track leads up through thick golden tussock until the airy ridge to the summit is reached. From the top, there are sweeping views across the inlets and islands of Lake Wanaka and up to the shimmering peak of Mount Aspiring and Tititea.

Explore the Mountain World of Mount Aspiring National Park

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Mt Aspiring National Park, Wanaka, New Zealand
Mt Aspiring National Park
Wanaka
Photographer: Gilbert van Reenen
(www.cleangreen.co.nz)

Mount Aspiring National Park, just a short drive from Wanaka, has some of New Zealand's most scenic walks. From Wanaka, the drive up the Matukituki Valley towards the park offers tantalising glimpses of the high peaks and glaciers. Treble Cone Ski Area is passed on the left and, further up the valley, remnant wetlands on either side of the road are home to a number of New Zealand's wading birds.

The pinnacle of the park is Mount Aspiring and Tititea, rising elegantly from its flanking glaciers to 3,027 metres—a peak much loved by climbers and photographers. You don't have to be a mountaineer to enjoy the delights of the Park (although any one of a dozen world-class local guides can accompany you to the top). A myriad of walking tracks meander through the Park's open valleys, or you can fly overhead and gaze down on its golden river flats and forested ridges.

» Mount Aspiring National Park Information

» Mt Aspiring Travel Directory

Discover the Golden History of the Cardrona Valley

The Cardrona Valley gained its fame in Otago's gold rush. Now the only gold is in the burnished swathes of tussock that cover the hills on either side of the Cardrona Highway linking Wanaka to Queenstown.

On the valley's western side lies Cardrona Ski Area, a world-class resort with trails also open for mountain biking in the summer months.

On the eastern side lies Waiorau Snow Farm, New Zealand's only Nordic ski area, with high rolling terrain on the Pisa Plateau.

Back country horse treks are also available in the valley.

» Cardrona Valley Information

» Cardrona Valley Travel Directory

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Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

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Large collection of independent hotels.

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Holiday packages for any occasion.

Distinction Hotels

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Great hotels in great NZ wide locations.