You can’t visit the South Island of New Zealand without planning at least one day in Wanaka. Known for the beautiful Lake Wanaka, the Wanaka Tree, and the endless sights to see, Wanaka is a nature-lovers’ paradise. This is how to spend a day in Wanaka.
How to Spend a Day in Wanaka
If you’re staying in Queenstown, the drive to Wanaka will take you just about an hour through Crown Range. Start your day off with a tour of the gorgeous Wanaka Lavender Farm, which is just on the outside of Wanaka.
Wanaka Lavender Farm
The Wanaka Lavender Farm consists of a little building stuffed with lavender-scented goodies and an absolutely adorable café serving up teas and cakes. You can take a tour of the farm and gardens for $2 in the off-season (from March to November) and just $5 during the high season (from December to February). Just pay in the shop, there is no need to book in advance. The entry fee grants you access to the gardens, which you can wander through at your own pace. There are animals on the property, including alpacas, sheep, bulls, a furry pig, and two ponies. The ponies are the friendliest and love being pet.
After a stroll through the gardens, take a break with a pot of tea in the little café. I ordered a lavender tea, and Michael ordered the strawberry plum. The café has the cutest, most relaxing tea-time vibes, with dried lavender hanging from the walls and beautiful photo books from which you can learn more about farming lavender and the uses of this medicinal plant.
The Wanaka Tree
Once you’ve had enough of the lavender farm, stop by the famous Wanaka Tree for a classic tourist photo. The Wanaka Tree is a well-known icon in this little town as it’s been growing for over 70 years in Lake Wanaka. Any time of year would be wonderful to visit this cute little tree; we went in autumn which was beautiful with the trees changing colors on the outskirts of the lake.
This could also be a great picnic spot, as there are a few tables just a short walk down the lake.
The Blue Pools
After the Wanaka Tree, take a little bit of a drive to the beautiful Blue Pools. These crystal-clear pools are known for their bright blue color and pristinely clear waters. The walk from the parking lot will take 20 minutes to get to the pools. Once you get to the pools, you’ll walk over a suspension bridge for your first views of the blue river. If there has recently been rain, the color of the water may be a bit murky or green. Waiting a few days post-rain will give you the best color. Spend the afternoon soaking up the sun, the fresh air, and dipping your toes in this refreshing water. Don’t forget your sand fly repellent as they are swarming this area.
When you’ve had enough of the Blue Pools, hop in the car for the two hour drive back to Queenstown. Take the scenic route and stop at a winery or two in Otago. We stopped at an absolutely amazing organic winery called Aurum Wines. I highly recommend making the stop here for a quick tasting. Grab a bottle to take back to Queenstown and watch the sun set over the lake.
Wanaka is a beautiful area and a destination not to be missed on your trip to Queenstown. This was how to spend a day in Wanaka.