Last Updated on July 14, 2022 by ashleighsatlas
Are you considering walking or biking the Millennium Walkway in Wanaka? (It’s also known as the Millennium Track Wanaka or Glendhu Bay Track – and goes from Wanaka to Glendhu Bay).
Even though I’ve lived in Wanaka for months, I’d never heard of the Millenium Walkway. I accidentally stumbled across it when I was walking the Waterfall Creek Track during lockdown. I got to Waterfall Creek and saw the sign for the Millennium Track, and went back to hike it the next day. (Because you can never do too many walks during lockdown….)
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the Millennium Track Wanaka, including whether you should choose it over the Waterfall Creek Track, Roys Peak and Mt Iron.
Also check out more photos of the Millenium Walkway in my post 20 photos to inspire you to walk the Millennium Walkway in Wanaka.
What is the best walk: Millennium Walkway, Wanaka Tree, Mt Iron, or Roys Peak?
It depends on what kind of hike you’re looking for and how long you have in Wanaka. They have very different levels of difficulty and types of views.
If you’re looking for a fairly flat walk along Lake Wanaka….
The Millennium Walkway and Waterfall Creek Track are part of one big track from Wanaka to Glendhu Bay. Waterfall Creek Track is the first half of the track, and the Millennium Walkway is the second half. They are fairly flat walks that follow along Lake Wanaka.
- Waterfall Creek Track has That Wanaka Tree, it’s easier to access (it starts in town), and it’s a little bit easier and flatter.
- Millennium Walkway has nicer views – the track is slightly hillier and it’s further away from town so you have better views of Mt Aspiring. It’s also much quieter.
If you’re looking for a hilly walk with views overlooking Lake Wanaka….
- Mt Iron is a short fairly easy hilly 1.5 hour walk that has views over Wanaka and the Wanaka township end of the lake.
- Roys Peak is a much harder 5-7 hour hike up a very steep hill, but with much nicer views because it’s higher up.
- Diamond Lake Track – a local’s favourite! This is where I take family and friends visiting who want pretty views over the lake, but don’t want to hike for 7 hours up a steep hill. It’s around 2-3 hours return.
If I had to choose….
- I would do either Diamond Lake walk or Roys Peak depending on how big a hill you want to hike up. These have the best and most dramatic views.
- I would skip Mt Iron. The views are nice, but the views at Diamond Lake and Roys Peak are much better.
- I would do the first five minutes of the Waterfall Creek Track just to see That Wanaka Tree. (I think the tree is a little overrated, but it’s still pretty and it’s very easy to access from town. You can read my honest review of the Wanaka Tree here).
- If you have time for another walk, or don’t fancy climbing up a hill, I’d do the Millennium Walkway.
- If you live in Wanaka, do all of them!
If you still need help deciding if it’s worth it, you can find more photos of the Millennium Walkway in my post 20 photos to inspire you to walk the Millennium Walkway in Wanaka.
Best places to take photos on the Millennium Track Wanaka
There are lots of lovely places to stop along the way for photos. A couple of my favourites:
- There’s a lookout not far past Waterfall Creek with beautiful views looking back over Wanaka township and Ruby Island. About 15 minutes after starting the track at Waterfall Creek, look for the “lookout” sign on the left, and then follow the short path which goes up a small hill. It’s well signposted and you can’t miss it.
- The views just before Damper Bay are beautiful, before you start the descent down to the bay. It overlooks Lake Wanaka with Mt Aspiring in the background. This sounds like how you would describe every other view around Wanaka, but because it’s further out of town it feels much more remote. It’s like you’re at a completely different lake in the middle of nowhere.
Have a look at my post 20 photos to inspire you to walk the Millennium Walkway in Wanaka which shows you which photos were taken in each of these spots.
I only walked the first half of the track from Waterfall Creek to Damper Bay so there may be other good spots in the second half.
When is the best time to go to the Millenium Walkway?
There’s no risk of icy tracks or avalanches in Winter like the hillier walks around Wanaka, so you can go anytime. I did it in August and it was lovely being surrounded by snow covered hills. If you can, go on a clear day when the hills aren’t covered in cloud and the lake looks bluer.
The best time to visit Wanaka depends on what you’re here for:
- Skiing: August to mid-September is best. Read my Ultimate Guide to Skiing in Wanaka and 33 Best Things to Do in Wanaka in Winter.
- Summer road trip around the South Island: February to April when the weather is usually warmer and more settled, and avoids the Christmas/January school holidays when everyone in New Zealand is on holiday.
Other top tips
- It’s a 15km one way walk. Arrange to be picked up at the end of the track at Glendhu Bay in advance, or bike if you want to do the return trip.
- The best direction is Wanaka to Glendhu Bay, rather than Glendhu Bay to Wanaka.
- If you want to walk from Wanaka, rather than driving to the starting point which is a five minute drive out of Wanaka, you can walk along the Waterfall Creek Track which joins up with the Millennium Walkway (an extra 2.5km/one hour walk one way).
- Go to Velo Cafe, a cute café at the Glendhu Bay bike park. It’s worth going just for the beautiful architecture – think cute Scandi vibes meets New Zealand native wood. It’s just across the road from the end of the track at Glendhu Bay.
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
How long is the Millennium Walkway?
The full track from Waterfall Creek to Glendhu Bay is 15km each way and takes around 3-4 hours walking or 1-2 hours biking each way.
The sign at the start of the track is confusing. It says it’s only 5km each way, but this is just for the “Millenium Track”, which technically only goes part of the way.
I arrived at the walk thinking it was only 10km return, but when I realised it was 30km return, quickly abandoned my plan to walk the whole way. I just walked to Damper Bay (about halfway) and back. This was about 14km return and takes around three hours.
If you want to extend your walk, you can start in Wanaka and do the Waterfall Creek Track first which takes you to the start of the Millennium Walkway (an extra 2.5km/one hour walk each way).
If I was doing it again, I’d either:
- Walk the whole track from Waterfall Creek to Glendhu Bay one way and arrange to be picked up at Glendhu Bay, or
- Bike the whole track return.
Is it a round track or one way?
It’s a one-way track. It goes from Waterfall Creek to Glendhu Bay.
What’s the best direction to walk the Glendhu Bay Track: Wanaka to Glendhu Bay or Glendhu Bay to Wanaka?
I recommend walking Wanaka to Glendhu Bay, rather than Glendhu Bay to Wanaka. The views are probably best if you start at Waterfall Creek and end in Glendhu Bay since you’ll be facing towards Mt Aspiring when you’re walking.
Should you walk or bike the Millennium Walkway?
You can either walk or bike the track. I was one of the few people walking; most people were biking.
If I was to do it again I’d probably bike rather than walk. If you’re walking you have to either walk one way and arrange to be picked up (which is logistically annoying), or walk 30km return (which is a long way and probably not worth it).
How difficult is the Millennium Walkway?
It’s an easy walk and the track is well-formed. There are a few small hills, but they’re nothing like Roys Peak or even Mt Iron. This is one of the best things about the walk – it’s not much effort for a big payoff with views. If you’re reasonably fit you should find it fairly easy.
I saw lots of families with small children biking, although a lot of first time mountain bikers have told me they found it challenging – the surface is quite uneven and there’s a lot of hills.
Can you hike the Millennium Walkway in Winter?
Yes, I did it in Winter. It just follows along the lake and there’s no avalanche risk like many of the walks near Wanaka which are in the mountains.
Can you do a guided walk?
Not that I know of. It’s an easy and well sign-posted track so you won’t need a guide.Wanaka-Travel-Guide
HOW TO GET THERE
Where does the Millennium Walkway start?
The Millennium Walkway starts at Waterfall Creek, a five-minute drive out of Wanaka towards Roys Peak and the Treble Cone Skifield. (If you put Waterfall Creek Wanaka into Google maps it comes up with a few different places: If you type “Waterfall Creek Toilet Wanaka”, “Waterfall Creek Wanaka Seat” or “Glendhu Bay Track” this will show you the correct starting point. It’s at the end of Ruby Island Rd).
You could also start in Wanaka and walk along the Waterfall Creek Track (which connects to the start of the Millennium Walkway) if you wanted to extend your walk.
Where does the Millennium Walkway end?
The Millennium Walkway ends at the Glendhu Bay Motorcamp, which is a 10-15 minute drive out of Wanaka.
It’s a one-way hike, so make sure you arrange return transport in advance, unless you want to walk another 15km back again.
There’s a carpark with free parking at Waterfall Creek and at the Glendhu Bay Public Boat Ramp (turn right just after the Glendhu Bay Motor Camp if you’re coming from Wanaka). There was plenty of space when I was there.
How to get to the Millennium Walkway from Wanaka
- Drive: It’s a five-minute drive to Waterfall Creek (start of the track) and a 10-15 minute drive to Glendhu Bay (end of the track). If you need a rental car, the best company I’ve used is rentalcars.com – it compares all rental car companies like Skyscanner or booking.com
- Taxi: There are two taxi companies in Wanaka – Yello Cabs and Wana Taxi. (There’s no Uber).
- Shuttles and boat transfers: Check out the Wanaka Tourism website for shuttles. This could be a good option if you wanted to walk or bike one way, and get a shuttle or boat back.
- From Wanaka to Waterfall Creek (start of the track) Walk/bike: Walk or bike along the Waterfall Creek Track which connects to the start of the Millennium Walkway (2.5km each way).
- There’s no public transport that will get you to the start/end of the track.
How to get to Wanaka from Queenstown
- Drive: You can either drive over the Crown Range Rd via Cardrona (about one hour), or through Cromwell on State Highway 6 (about one and a half hours). The Crown Range Rd is faster, has lovely mountain views, and has the famous Cardrona Hotel pub, so I usually go this way. There are also amazing views the Cromwell way, especially as you follow the bright blue river through the Gibbston Valley on your way out of Queenstown. If you’re doing a return journey I’d recommend going both ways. Book your rental car through rentalcars.com, which shows you every car available from every rental car company.
- Shuttle: You can get a shuttle between Queenstown and Wanaka for around $30 each way. See the Wanaka Tourism website who can help you book.
- Taxi: A taxi would be $250-$300 so I wouldn’t recommend this.
- Sadly there’s no public transport between Wanaka and Queenstown.
Planning a trip to Queenstown? Read my Ultimate Queenstown Destination Guide.
Map of the Glendhu Bay Track
There’s a map of the track on the DOC website (see the last page of the brochure). It’s not the easiest to see where it starts and finishes because it connects with other tracks in Wanaka. Essentially the track starts where the “4” is at Waterfall Creek, follows north-west along the marked “5” Glendhu Bay Track, and ends at Glendhu Bay. It’s an easy well-marked track so you won’t need a map.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
On the track. There’s no cafes or restaurants on the track.
Glendhu Bay. Make sure you go to Velo Cafe, a cute café at the Glendhu Bay bike park. It’s worth going just for the beautiful architecture – think cute Scandi vibes meets New Zealand native wood. It’s just across the road from the end of the track at Glendhu Bay.
Wanaka. There are so many amazing cafes and restaurants in Wanaka. My don’t miss places are:
- Scroggin (for brunch).
- The food truck park on Brownston Street (Burrito Craft and Firebird are my faves).
- A local brewery like Rhyme and Reason, Ground Up or b.Social.
WHERE TO STAY
Most of the hotels in Wanaka are quite dated, generic, and overpriced. Wanaka is small so location isn’t important. Prioritise finding a nice hotel over location – everything is in close distance and there’s lots of free parking.
Looking for the best luxury hotels and cute B&Bs in Wanaka? Add these to your bucket list:
- Mahu Whenua (The most luxurious hotel in Wanaka. It’s outside town near Glendhu Bay – one of the most beautiful areas in Wanaka.)
- Wanaka Haven (A beautiful bnb. Just out of town near the Wanaka Lavender Farm).
- 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. Cons: decor was a bit modern for me, nice but not 5 star luxury. Would def recommend for families and large groups.)
- Wanaka Homestead Lodge & Cottages (Gorgeous bnb. Amazing location in walking distance to the Wanaka Tree, main township, and Wanaka lakefront).
- 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.)
- Cardrona Hotel (Beautiful historic building, charming rooms with cute interiors, and good food. A great base if you’re skiing at Cardrona).
- The Lindis (This hotel has been on my bucket list for years – the architecture and interiors are incredibly beautiful and it’s very luxurious. It’s between Lake Tekapo and Wanaka. I wouldn’t use this for a Wanaka base, but it would be amazing for a weekend away or if you can work it into your road trip itinerary.)
- Minaret Station (Only accessible by helicopter and very luxurious. One for the bucket list.)
You could also stay in Queenstown. I wouldn’t use Queenstown as a base if you plan to spend a lot of time in Wanaka (it’s an hour drive over a big hill), but it’s fine if you want to be mainly based in Queenstown and just do a day trip to Wanaka.
Looking for the best luxury hotels in Queenstown? Add these to your bucket list:
- Hulbert House
- Dairy Private Hotel
- Eichardt’s Private Hotel
- The Spire Hotel
- Stoneridge Estate
- Gibbston Valley Lodge and Spa
WHAT ELSE TO DO NEARBY
The best things to do in Wanaka
When I first moved to Wanaka, I had no idea what everyone did for fun. (It’s a very small town). I quickly learnt that the best thing to do is get out of town and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. These are the best things to do in Wanaka.
- Blue Pools Wanaka – Beautiful and easy short walk to a bright blue lake you shouldn’t miss. Make sure to stop at the Lake Hawea Lookout on the way. Read my ultimate guide to the Blue Pools here and Lake Hawea Lookout here.
- Roys Peak – Famous and busy walk in Wanaka with beautiful lake views.
- Isthmus Peak – One of my favourite walks I’ve ever done. Beautiful views like Roys Peak, but not as popular or touristy (yet). Read my ultimate guide to Isthmus Peak here.
- Diamond Lake Track – Fairly easy walk with beautiful lake views. Much easier than Roys Peak and a local’s favourite.
- Rob Roy Glacier walk – Beautiful glacier views and one of the best walks I’ve ever done. Read my ultimate guide to the Rob Roy Glacier Track here.
- Millennium Walkway – One of my favourite walks in Wanaka with beautiful. Most tourists have never heard of it. Read my complete guide to the Millennium Walkway here.
- Wanaka Lavender Farm – Beautiful lavender field you shouldn’t miss if you visit in Summer. Read my ultimate guide to the Wanaka Lavender Farm here.
- Mou Waho Island: Boat cruise to a tiny island on Lake Wanaka (it has an island on a lake, on an island on a lake). You can also do a boat cruise to Ruby Island, another popular island on Lake Wanaka.
- Skiing at Cardrona or Treble Cone: The best place to go skiing in New Zealand. Read my Ultimate Guide to Skiing in Wanaka and 33 Best Things to Do in Wanaka in Winter.
- Winery tour: Go on a winery tour to explore the local vineyards. Read my Guide to the 5 Best Bannockburn Wineries.
- Shop at local boutiques: Wanaka has no large chain stores. Instead, there’s lots of lovely locally owned small boutiques.
- Cardrona Distillery and Cardrona Hotel: There’s always lots of tourists taking photos of the Cardrona Hotel, but it’s a really cute building and the food is good. The Cardrona Distillery is just across the road and does a great whisky and gin tour.
Other hikes not to miss in New Zealand
- Kepler Track – If you fancy doing one of the Great Walks in Fiordland, this is a four-day hike with incredible alpine and fiord views. Read my complete guide to the Kepler Track here.
- Tongariro Crossing – If there’s one hike you do in New Zealand, do this. One minute you’re walking on the moon, the next a forest, and then you’re at the top of a volcano looking down on emerald crater lakes.
- Abel Tasman – Four-day hike weaving along golden sandy beaches and the bright blue ocean (and, if you’re feeling lazy, you can stay in hotels and a boat will carry your bags between them).
- Mount Cook – Again, there are so many amazing hikes around Mount Cook. Hooker Valley Track is an easy walk which goes to a milky glacier lake. You can also do a heli-hike on Tasman Glacier.
WHY YOU SHOULD HIKE THE MILLENNIUM WALKWAY
If you’re tossing up between doing the Wanaka Tree or Mt Iron walking tracks, there’s another easy day walk you should consider: the Millennium Walkway. You may think it’s not as good because it’s not as popular, but trust me, the views are even better.
If you don’t fancy climbing up a giant hill all day (I’m looking at you Roys Peak), it’s an easy gentle stroll along the lake. It’s far enough out of town that you get to see Lake Wanaka from a whole different perspective, with Mt Aspiring and its snow-capped mountains so much closer.
But if you want the best views in town, and don’t mind hiking up a big hill, Roys Peak or the Diamond Lake Track is probably the one for you. If you’ve got time, why not do both though?
If you’re still not sure whether you should do the Millennium Walkway, have a look at my post 20 photos to inspire you to walk the Millennium Walkway in Wanaka to see what you can expect.