12 BEST Wanaka Walks (From A Local + With Map)

Last Updated on July 14, 2022 by ashleighsatlas

Are you wondering what the best Wanaka walks are?

When I moved to Wanaka last year, the only Wanaka hikes I’d heard of were Roy’s Peak and the Wanaka Tree.

I’ve since discovered there are so many more short hikes in Wanaka. (I also discovered Roy’s Peak was a 16km hike up a very steep mountain, so not suitable for everyone). 

Keep reading to find out the 12 best day hikes in Wanaka and which one is right for you.

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Wanaka Travel Guide

11 Best Wanaka Hikes

1. Roy’s Peak 

Don’t miss 

Distance: 16km return 

Time: 5-6 hours return 

Round track or one way: Round trip  

Difficulty: Medium/hard

If you’re looking for the best Wanaka walks, I’m sure you’ve heard of Roy’s Peak. It’s on every best Wanaka hikes list.

But if you ask any Wanaka local what they think about Roy’s Peak, they’ll probably all tell you the same thing: overrated. 

It’s very touristy and busy. You know that photo you’ve seen all over Instagram? You’ll probably have to line up for it.

Because it’s such an Instagram famous walk, most people don’t realise that it’s actually quite hard. It’s 5-6 hours up a very steep (and quite boring) hill. 

But it still has beautiful views of Lake Wanaka up the top. 

If you’re looking for something with similar views, but without the crowds, try Diamond Lake or Isthmus Peak

Getting there: Roy’s Peak is a 5-10 minute drive out of Wanaka, towards Mt Aspiring National Park. There’s a big free carpark, although it gets very busy, especially in Summer. 

2. Rob Roy Glacier Track 

Don’t miss 

Distance: 10km return 

Time: 3-4 hours 

Round track or one way: Round trip  

Elevation gain: 450m

Difficulty: Easy/medium 

The Rob Roy Glacier Track is one of the best Wanaka short hikes. I recommend it to everyone that visits Wanaka.

It’s also surprisingly quiet. I have no idea how this walk isn’t more popular. 

It’s only a few hours return and a fairly easy hike, but the views are incredible. You walk up through a valley and then pop out at a beautiful glacier. I think it’s even better than Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, which you sadly can’t really see anymore because they’ve melted so much.

If you only have time for two Wanaka day hikes, I’d recommend doing the Rob Roy Glacier and then a walk with more classic Lake Wanaka views (like Roy’s Peak, Diamond Lake, or Isthmus Peak). 

Getting there: It’s around an hour drive from Wanaka (not two hours like Google maps says) towards Mt Aspiring and there’s a free carpark. It’s worth going just for the drive which is beautiful. Search “Raspberry Flat Carpark” or “Rob Roy Glacier Trail Head Carpark” on Google maps to get to the carpark.

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Guide to the Rob Roy Glacier Track

3. Blue Pools 

Don’t miss 

Distance: 3km return 

Time: 1 hour return 

Round track or one way: Round trip  

Difficulty: Easy

The Blue Pools is another walk that I tell everyone they can’t miss if they’re visiting Wanaka. 

It’s very touristy and gets quite busy, but the views are definitely worth it. 

It’s a very easy short walk to the bluest pools you’ve ever seen. I was expecting little rockpools, but it’s more like a stream that flows out of a gorge and forms a pond where it connects with the main river.  

The water is bright emerald blue and so clear you can see the rocks at the bottom of the river. I was always sceptical people photoshopped their photos, but it really is that blue. 

Getting there: It’s an hour drive from Wanaka towards the West Coast and there’s a big free carpark.  

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Guide to the Blue Pools

4. Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain 

Highly recommended 

Distance: 2km to 7km depending on track 

Time: 45mins to 3 hours depending on track  

Round track or one way: Round trip  

Elevation gain: 500m 

Difficulty: Easy/medium depending on track  

If you ask any Wanaka local what their favourite Wanaka walk is, they will probably say Diamond Lake (also called Rocky Mountain).

This is where I take all my family and friends who come to visit. It’s basically a mini-Roys Peak. It’s just around the corner so you get similar views, but it is much easier and shorter. 

There’s also hardly any tourists – it’s only really locals that do it. 

If Roy’s Peak looks too hard for you and you’re considering doing an easier walk like Mt Iron, I’d very highly recommend doing Diamond Lake/Rocky Mountain instead. 

Getting there: It’s a 20-minute drive from Wanaka towards Mt Aspiring and there’s a big free carpark which is always quite empty.   

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Guide to Diamond Lake

5. Isthmus Peak 

Don’t miss 

Distance: 16km return 

Time: 5-7 hours return 

Round track or one way: Round trip  

Difficulty: Medium/difficult 

Isthmus Peak is one of my favourite walks in New Zealand, perhaps even in the world. 

It’s known to locals as the new Roy’s Peak: aka beautiful views, but without the crowds. 

It’s not technically hard, but it’s a long slog up a big hill. 

The views are definitely worth it though. You have incredible views over Lake Hawea the whole way up. Then when you get to the top, there are incredible views over Lake Wanaka. 

It’s definitely a “don’t miss” if you’re in Wanaka. Just be prepared for sore legs the next day. 

Getting there: It’s a 20-minute drive from Wanaka, past Lake Hawea and towards the West Coast. There are two small free carparks, which are terribly signposted but don’t get very busy. 

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Guide to Isthmus Peak

6. Wanaka Tree and Waterfall Creek Track

Recommended 

Distance: 2.5km 

Time: 1 hour 

Round track or one way: One way   

Difficulty: Easy  

You’ve probably heard of the Wanaka Tree, but did you know that it’s also a walk? 

If you keep walking past the Wanaka Tree, you can walk along the lake to Waterfall Creek (a pretty bay further around the lake). 

If you don’t fancy climbing mountains and just want a really chill walk around the lake, it’s a pretty walk. 

It’s super touristy at the Wanaka Tree section of the track, but once you get past this it gets a bit quieter. 

Getting there: The track starts in the middle of Wanaka. Search “Lake Wanaka Hike/Bike Track” which will take you to the carpark/start of the track. The carpark usually gets very busy since it’s also the carpark for the Wanaka Tree. 

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Guide to the Wanaka Tree and Ultimate Guide to the Waterfall Creek Track

7. Millennium Track (Glendhu Bay Track)

Highly recommended 

Distance: 15km one way  

Time: 3-4 hour walk each way; 1-2 hour bike each way  

Round track or one way: One way   

Elevation gain: Unknown  

Difficulty: Easy

I found the Millennium Track (also called the Glendhu Bay Track) completely by accident and it’s now one of my favourite Wanaka walks. 

If you’re looking for a fairly easy walk around the lake, the Glendhu Bay Track is my favourite. 

I actually think it’s much better than the Wanaka Tree and Waterfall Creek Track.  The views are so much better and there’s no tourists around. You’re a bit further out of town and it’s so peaceful that it almost feels like you’re at a different lake. 

Don’t be put off that you’ve probably never heard of it. I’ve done all of the lakeside walks around Wanaka and this one has the best views by far. 

Getting there: It starts at Waterfall Creek, which is a 5-minute drive from the centre of Wanaka. It’s a one-way walk so make sure you arrange your return transport in advance. It’s quite a long way so I wouldn’t do it return. 

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Guide to the Glendhu Bay Track

8. Beacon Point Track 

Recommended 

Distance: 1.5km – 2.5km each way 

Time: 30-60 minutes each way    

Round track or one way: One way 

Difficulty: Easy – stroller friendly   

Most people turn left at Lake Wanaka and walk towards the Wanaka Tree. Did you know you can also turn right and walk around the other side of the lake?

The Beacon Point Track is a lovely walk that follows alongside Lake Wanaka. You probably won’t see any tourists but you’ll see a few Wanaka locals walking their dogs.

It ends up at one of my favourite spots in Wanaka: Beacon Point. It’s a pretty pebbly beach like the Wanaka Lakefront, but without the tourists and with even better views. It’s a beautiful spot to swim, picnic or just sit on the beach reading. 

It’s also a lovely spot for sunset.

Getting there: There is no official start of the track. You can either start at the Wanaka Lakefront or from Eely Point. There’s free parking at both spots. It’s not signposted, but you’ll see a track. Just jump on the track and head right. 

If you don’t want to walk, you can also drive directly to Beacon Point Beach instead. 

INSIDER’S TIP: I prefer biking rather than walking if I’m doing the Beacon Point Track (or one of the other lakeside tracks like Eely Point or the Outlet Track). You can rent bikes here and get a shuttle to Lake Hawea, and then bike back along the Clutha River and Lake Wanaka.

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Guide to the Beacon Point Track

9. Eely Point Track

Recommended 

Distance: 1km each way 

Time: 20-30 minutes each way    

Round track or one way: One way  

Difficulty: Easy – stroller friendly and mostly flat 

The Eely Point Track is a short walk from Lake Wanaka to Eely Point, which follows along Lake Wanaka. 

It ends at Eely Point, which is a really popular spot for locals to swim and bbq in the Summer. It’s a pretty pebbly beach with sheltered water. 

It’s a good (and much quieter) alternative to the Wanaka Tree and Waterfall Creek Track, which follow the lake in the opposite direction. 

I wouldn’t go out of your way to do this walk, but if you have spare time it’s a pretty and short walk. Do what the locals do, and bring some drinks for a picnic on the beach.

Getting there: The track starts at the Wanaka Lakefront. There’s no officially marked start of the track. Just look for the path and follow it right towards the marina. 

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Guide to the Eely Point Track

10. Mt Iron 

Recommended 

Distance: 4.5km  

Time: 1-1.5 hours   

Round track or one way: Round trip  

Elevation gain: 225m  

Difficulty: Easy 

If you want views of Lake Wanaka, but don’t want to head out of town to Roy’s Peak or Diamond LakeMt Iron is a super popular walk in the middle of Wanaka. 

It’s in the centre of Wanaka and it’s a fairly easy short (although hilly) walk. There are beautiful 360 views at the top: you can see Wanaka, Hawea, the Cardrona Valley, Mt Aspiring and many other surrounding mountains.

Just be aware that it’s quite touristy and gets busy. The views also aren’t as good as Roy’s Peak or Rocky Mountain. But it’s still a lovely walk. 

Getting there: Search “Mount Iron Trail Parking” on Google maps for the carpark/start of the track. The carpark gets fairly busy but there’s usually parks available. 

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Guide to the Mt Iron Track

11. Outlet Track Wanaka 

Recommended 

Distance: 3km one way  

Time: 1 hour one way   

Round track or one way: One way   

Difficulty: Easy 

The Outlet Track follows the Clutha River, from where Lake Wanaka joins the Clutha River, to Albert Town. 

You walk alongside the Clutha River, which is a lovely bright blue colour. The walk is especially beautiful in Autumn, when there are lots of orange-leaved trees lining the river.

It’s not the most dramatic or beautiful walk in Wanaka, but it’s a pretty walk (or bike) if you’re looking for something easy and flat. 

Getting there: You can start at the Albert Town Carpark, the Albert Town Lookout, or the Outlet Camp.

INSIDER’S TIP: If I’m doing one of the walks around Lake Wanaka, I prefer to bike. A really popular route is from Lake Hawea to Wanaka, which follows along the Clutha River and around Lake Wanaka. You can rent bikes here and they will drop you off at Lake Hawea.

RELATED: Read My Ultimate Guide to the Outlet Track

12. Mou Waho Island Walk

Highly recommended 

Distance: 2km return 

Time: 55 minutes return    

Round track or one way: Return   

Difficulty: Easy 

The Mou Waho Island Walk is one of my favourite short walks in Wanaka. It’s on an island in the middle of Lake Wanaka, so you’ll need to go on a boat cruise to get there.

It’s a beautiful hour long cruise to get to Mou Waho, past snow-capped mountains. Once you get there, it’s an easy short walk to the lookout at the top of the island. It looks out over the “island on a lake on an island on a lake on an island”.

It’s definitely worth adding to your Wanaka bucket list. It’s also a really good option for Winter in Wanaka when most of the Wanaka walks aren’t open due to ice and avalanche risk.

Getting there: Book a Mou Waho Island Cruise with Lake Wanaka Cruises.

RELATED: Ultimate Mou Waho Island Cruise Guide

WHERE TO STAY

Looking for the best luxury hotels and cute B&Bs in Wanaka? Add these to your bucket list:

  1. Mahu Whenua (The most luxurious hotel in Wanaka. It’s outside town near Glendhu Bay, one of the most beautiful areas in Wanaka.)
  2. Wanaka Haven (A beautiful bnb. Just out of town near the Wanaka Lavender Farm).
  3. Distinction Wanaka Serviced Apartments (A resort made up of around 30 private apartments. I lived in an apartment here for six months. Pros: two hot tubs/pools with beautiful views, sauna, tennis court, large apartments with full kitchens, good location. Would def recommend for families and large groups, especially if you’re in Wanaka for a ski holiday. Cons: decor was a bit modern for me, nice but not 5 star luxury. )
  4. Wanaka Homestead Lodge & Cottages (Gorgeous bnb. Amazing location in walking distance to the Wanaka Tree, main township, and Wanaka lakefront).
  5. Cross Hill Glamping (I’ve never been a fan of glamping (it sounds too much like camping), but these domes look very luxurious and I’d love to stay. I’ve had friends who stayed here and loved them. They overlook Lake Hawea: a prettier lake than Lake Wanaka and only a 15 minute drive from Wanaka.)
  6. Cardrona Hotel (Beautiful historic building, charming rooms with cute interiors, and good food. A great base if you’re skiing at Cardrona).

GETTING AROUND

Most of the Wanaka walks are out of town. There is very limited public transport so you’ll need a car to get to the start of them.

You could arrange a private taxi/shuttle from Wanaka. But it can be tricky with walks because you don’t know how long you’ll be, so it’s hard to arrange a return pick up time.

It’s definitely much easier to have your own car.

If you’re looking for a rental car, I highly recommend using rentalcars.com. I always use them whenever I travel, because it compares each car rental company so you know you’re always getting the best deal. It also shows you reviews so you know it’s a trustworthy company.

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