23 Cardrona Valley Road, Wanaka
P: 03 443 0710 / Mon-Fri 9am - 6pm
Phone - 03 443 0710
23 Cardrona Valley Road, Wanaka
P: 03 443 0710 / Mon-Fri 9am - 6pm

Wanaka

Wanaka is a town in the Central Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand.

It is situated at the southern end of Lake Wanaka, adjacent to the outflow of the lake to the Clutha River. It is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park. Wanaka is primarily a resort town but has both summer and winter seasons and is based around the many outdoor opportunities. Due to the growing tourism business and the increasing number of retirees in Wanaka, there is massive growth occurring, up to 50% in 10 years.

The town is part of the Queenstown-Lakes District and was originally settled during the gold rush excitement of the 19th century.

History

European settlement began in the Upper Clutha River Valley in the 1850s, with the establishment of sheep stations by ‘runholders’. The first station was at Albert Town as this was the only place to ford the Clutha River. The present site of Wanaka was first surveyed in 1863. Settlement increased in Pembroke (the old name for Wanaka) in the 1870s because of timber milling in the Matukituki Valley and the use of Lake Wanaka for transport. Tourism started in the town in 1867 with the opening of the first hotel, by Theodore Russell. The site proved very popular for tourism because of its temperate climate and easy access to snow and water. Pembroke was renamed Wanaka in 1940.

Geography

The town of Wanaka is situated at the Southern end of Lake Wanaka. It is surrounded by mountains. To the southwest of the town is Queenstown (120 km), to the north Haast Pass cuts through the Southern Alps near Makarora. To the northeast are the towns of Omarama and Twizel. Very close to Lake Wanaka there also is Lake Hawea, in a parallel glacial valley, which also has a recently developed settlement of about 1,500 people. To the south of the town lies more of the Southern Alps but close to the town is the Glendu Bay motorpark, leading into the Matukituki River valley. This gives access to the Mount Aspiring National Park

The centre of the town is on flat land beside Roy’s Bay. Parts of the town have grown into the hills around the town and also around Roy’s Bay in both directions. The lakeside area of the town is prone to occasional flooding in spring, when heavy rain and snowmelt can cause the lake to rise dramatically. Such a flood occurred in November 1999.

Climate

Wanaka is one of the few areas in New Zealand to enjoy a continental climate, with four distinct seasons. The weather is fairly dry with spring (September-December) bringing the wettest months. Annual rainfall is 682 mm which is half the national average. Wanaka experiences hot dry summers with temperatures reaching the high 30s but the average is 24°C. Winter tends to have clear calm days with highs around 10°C.

Attractions

These days, with its beautiful lake and mountain views, Wanaka has become a popular tourist resort, loved by many for being less commercialised than Queenstown.

Wanaka boasts a growing number of excellent restaurants, cafes and a diverse nightlife. Other attractions in the town include Puzzling World and the Paradiso Cinema. Puzzling World contains a 3D maze, optical illusions and a leaning tower. The Paradiso is a classic old cinema, with seating consisting of old couches and a car. There are a number of wineries in the area.

A great day excursion can be had walking up neighbouring Roys Peak, from which stunning views can be seen of Wanaka and the surrounding area, including Mount Aspiring.