QUEENSTOWN – WANAKA
Travel distance is approximately 103kms (64 miles).
Allow at least 1.25 hours drive time (not including stops).
There are two driving routes available for travelling between Queenstown and Wanaka, the shortest route to Wanaka is over the Crown Range Road, and even though this is considered by some tourist drivers as a challenging drive, it does offer truly awesome views and the opportunity to enjoy an encounter with a friendly Kea.
If you prefer the more conservative and longer route you will still enjoy a very pleasant scenic drive following the Shotover River and past Lake Dustan and the Clutha River.
Some notable stops along the route to Wanaka include:
An awesome holiday destination in its own right, it is worth the detour to take in the delights of Arrowtown, especially during Autumn when the historic tree lined avenue changes to beautiful reds and gold’s as the leaves change. There are plenty of things to see and do during your stop in Arrowtown, including shopping, gold panning, visiting the Chinese Miners Settlement, the museum and numerous walking tracks.
THE CARDRONA HOTEL
Nestled within the Cardrona Valley is one of New Zealand’s oldest hotels offering unique accommodation and traditional Kiwi hospitality. The hotel’s historic restaurant and bar uses only the freshest produce to create a truly memorable dining experience.
This man-made lake and reservoir is a major recreational attraction in the area and is popular for boating, waterskiing, fishing, parenting and rowing.
Friendly and vibrant, Wanaka is an incredibly popular place to visit, especially if you prefer to avoid the huge numbers of tourists and tourism commercialism that has taken hold in nearby Queenstown. Considered one of New Zealand’s best all season’s resort, Wanaka is located in the Southern Lakes region of the lower South Island and is nestled on the shores of a stunning clear lake with breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains, including the towering Mount Aspiring.
The township of Wanaka offers a friendly ambience with plenty of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops to satisfy any cravings you may have for city action. Vibrant cafes, bars, nightclubs and restaurants offer fine cuisine and award-winning local and New Zealand wines.
The town centre of Wanaka is extremely visitor-friendly due to the compact and easy to navigate layout of the area that allows visitors to enjoy tourist shopping and dining at a leisurely pace. From central hotels, motels and holiday apartments it is easy to walk to most of Wanaka’s entertaining and dining venues.
Highly recommended Wanaka tourist attractions include…
Rippon Festival – Running since 2008, this annual summer festival is all about Kiwi musicians and their music with profits from all festivals going directly back into future events and the Wanaka community. With the festival located in the stunning Rippon Vineyard, party goers can enjoy great Kiwi music combined with stunning Kiwi scenery that stretches down symmetrical rows of graceful vines across the clear waters of Lake Wanaka, Ruby Island and the dramatic backdrop of the surrounding mountains.
Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow – Run every second Easter, this truly spectacular even attracts over 60 aircraft for awesome excitement and entertainment as some of the most famous warbirds that helped defend freedom during four world conflicts. There are also plenty of military vehicles, vintage machinery and trade stands to peruse.
Cinema Paradiso – This small classic movie theatre is located in the heart of Wanaka and offers great movies to be enjoyed on comfy old sofas or an old Morris Minor car! Enjoy delicious meals before, during or after the movie, including homemade ice cream and their world famous hot cookies.
Puzzling World – This internationally unique attraction has entertained and amazed visitors of all ages for over 35 years. Boasting the world’s first “modern-styled” Great Maze, incredible Illusion Rooms, a Puzzle Centre/Café, large Gift Shop and eccentric architecture and Oddities, this is a great place for some family fun and entertainment.
HeliSki – During winter join highly experienced guides as you tackle the ski terrain within the region’s most exclusive and varied terrain. Package deals and private charters are available.
Fishing – Wanaka has a wonderful selection of experienced fishing guides available for private charters, tuition or group fishing trips around the nearby lakes and rivers so you can pit your skills against local trout fish.
Skiing & Snowboarding – Lake Wanaka has 4 mountain resorts to choose from, being Cardrona, Treble Cone, Snow Park N and Snow Farm. Between all these ski resorts there is something to cater to everyone this winter, from well groomed beginner slopes to thrilling off piste chutes & powder bowls; from adrenaline-pumping pipes culture to tranquil cross country skiing trails.
Flightseeing – Enjoy a personalised ‘flight of discovery’ with informative commentary as you enjoy the stunning aerial views over Wanaka, Queenstown and onto Mount Cook and glaciers.
Lake Cruise – Enjoy a relaxing day or overnight cruise on Lake Wanaka.
Kayaking – Wanaka Kayaks offer freedom rentals and guided tours in state-of-the-art single and double sea kayaks, as well as single and double sit-on-tops.
White Water Rafting – A chance to experience New Zealand’s white water river rafting at its best! Choose from a range of numerous rafting packages to suit your timeframe and adrenaline level! Exciting rafting trips are available on the Kawarau and Shotover River’s.
Ski-ing & Snowboarding – Queenstown is one of the most popular places for winter fun! With some of the best ski fields in the world, visitors flock from around the world to hit the slopes of Coronet Peak, Cardona and more!
Guided Nature Walk – Enjoy a half or full day eco-sensitive guided nature walk with an experienced guide in a small group.
Wine Tour – Enjoy a wine tour of the premium vineyards of Central Otago. A range of tours is on offer, from small group tours to luxury wine tours and even Jet Boat wine tours!
Aerobatic Flight – Experience real aerobatics in the ultimate flying experience as you brace yourself for true G-Forces and sky dancing as you experience a unique aerial experience.
Freshwater Fishing – Try your hand at fly fishing in the lakes and rivers in the Queenstown region with an experienced fishing guide. Flyfishing schools and personalised guided trips are also available.
Balloon Ride – Experience the magic of sunrise over the lakes and mountains with Sunrise Balloons as you float gently along before enjoying a champagne style breakfast when you land.
Golf – There are plenty of terrific golf courses in the Queenstown region to be enjoyed, including the challenges of Arrowtown Golf Club and stunning Millbrook Resort Golf Course, while Frankton Golf Course is a smaller 9 hole course and Kelvin Heights offers an 18 hole course.
New Zealand Itineraries: South Island Suggested Itineraries
Our modern self-drive travel Itineraries have routes specifically for the North Island as well as the South Island, ranging from 5 to 11 days, plus there are some travel routes that take in both the North and South Island’s. Our range of travel itineraries include information regarding travel distances and time to ensure that you can make the best of your time in New Zealand, no longer how short your visit!
- 5 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Franz Josef – Wanaka, Wanaka – Mt Cook and Mt Cook – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – St Arnuad, St Arnuad – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Queenstown, Queenstown – Dunedin, Dunedin – Oamaru and Oamaru – Christchurch
- 7 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercargill, Invercargill – Stewart Island, Stewart Island – Te-anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown and Queenstown – Christchurch
- 8 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Fox Glacier – Wanaka, Wanaka – Queenstown, Queenstown – Te Anau, Te Anau – Dunedin and Dunedin – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercragill, Invercargill – Te Anau, Te Anau Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Lake Tekapo and Lake Tekapo – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Omarama, Omarama – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Haast, Haast – Greymouth and Greymouth – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Takaka, Takaka – Motueka, Motueka – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 11 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Milford Sound – Queenstown, Queenstown – Wanaka, Wanaka – Franz Josef, Franz Josef – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch