The best of New Zealand’s sights can be taken in from a small town on the country’s South Island. Wanaka, named after the lake it shares space with, is your first entry point into the Mount Aspiring National Park.
At the national park, you’ll find an itinerary filled with glaciers, lakes, and beech forests. If you’re looking for a bit of sport, there are two ski resorts just outside the park––Cardrona and Treble Cone. To even out that physical exercise with a bit of a mental workout, pay a visit to Puzzling World, a family-friendly attraction focused on working your brain with mazes, mind-bending sculptures, and optical illusions.
While most of the sights Wanaka has to offer will simply challenge your most vivid daydreams, there is one in particular that will have you scratching your head: The Lone Tree. As the name suggests, this tree stands complete alone––in Lake Wanaka. This tree has chosen just off the south end of the lake as its permanent home, stretching its branches over the surface of the water.
Wanaka is the spot for outdoor enthusiasts, whether you’re looking for a challenging bike ride with views that make all of the muscle pain go straight away or some casual skydiving. To best take in the scenery, book a helicopter tour to take you over Wanaka and the nearby National Park; if you’re lucky, you’ll even get to land on a glacier for a hot minute.
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Lake Wanaka is not to be passed off as merely another pretty lake scene. Measuring in at 27 miles long, the lake is a hub of water activities, from kayaking and sailing to waterskiing and wakeboarding.
Once you’re done exploring for the day, find yourself a glass of wine and something delicious at one of the many lakefront restaurants, cafes, and bars. And speaking of snacks, if you have the time or opportunity, take a trip to the local farmer’s market to check out Wanaka’s best produce in its prime.
All of this is to say that Wanaaa is the perfect destination for those looking to reconnect with a familiar friend––nature––in a completely unfamiliar place