You’ve hit the jackpot – not only are you visiting Wanaka in November when the days are getting longer, but with the temps warming up, the tracks are drying out after a long, wet winter.
From trails that take you high above the clouds to gentle ones along the lake, you’re spoilt for choice in Wanaka. Here are our top 4 hikes to check out during your visit to Wanaka.
Mount Isthmus Peak
- Distance: 16 km return (10 miles)
- Time Needed: 5-7 hours
- Difficulty: Hard
- Important Information: Trail is closed from 20th November to 20th December for fawning
Similar to Roys Peak, Mount Isthmus Peak offers incredible 360-degree views of Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, and the Southern Alps. Needing a relative level of fitness to tackle this walk, the track has an elevation of over 1000 meters, meaning you’ll most likely have sore legs the day after.
Starting in Hawea (a 30-minute drive from Wanaka) there is a parking lot off SH6 which will guide you to the track. Winding up the steep mountain side, across cow and sheep paddocks, and up a series of false peaks, this stunning hike is best kept for the experienced.
If you’re looking for a walk that’s equally as stunning but less effort, try our next suggestion, Diamond Lake.
Diamond Lake/Rocky Mountain
- Distance: Diamond Lake Circut 2.5 km / Diamond Lake Lookout 2 km / Lake Wanaka Lookout 5 km / Rocky Mountain Summit Track 7 km
- Time Needed: Between 2 to 3 hours
- Difficulty: Easy/moderate
About 15 minutes’ drive out of Wanaka towards Mount Aspiring you will find the Diamond Lake/Rocky Mountain track. This walk boasts 4 tracks (which all link up) and begin at the parking lot.
From the parking lot, walk down the trail where you’ll encounter the beautiful Diamond Lake. Here you can choose to walk around the lake or continue on to the other trails. The other three hikes start from the set of stairs and once on this trail, head to your right and follow the signage.
A stunning walk for those with varying walking/hiking experience, we can promise if you decide to complete the full Rocky Mountain Summit track you won’t be disappointed and you will be rewarded with breath taking views of Wanaka.
Rob Roy Glacier Track
- Distance: 10 km
- Time Needed: 4 hours
- Difficulty: Easy
Situated in Mount Aspiring National Park, you will have to drive 54kms to reach the carpark where you begin the walk. Please note the last 30kms of this road are unsealed, with parts having small fords running through it. The Rob Roy Glacier Track winds through stunning native beech forest, rivers, and waterfalls to, you guessed it, the Rob Roy Glacier.
This is a relatively easy track, with a gradual incline towards the glacier viewpoint. Even though it is a relatively easy and short hike – the weather can change quickly so make sure you are prepared.
- Distance: 2.5 km
- Time Needed: 1 hour
- Difficulty: Easy
Short on time but want to stretch the legs? Starting along the west end of Wanaka waterfront, this gentle, flat Waterfall Creek walk takes you through a beautiful picnic area, then casually winds along the lake’s shoreline passing the famous Wanaka Tree.
Continuing along the track, you walk past Edgewater (which have delicious scones if you choose to stop in!), Rippon Vineyard (where Cellar Door and Wine Tastings are available), then on to Waterfall Creek which gives stunning views of Ruby Island. From there you can follow the same track back or extend your walk towards Glendhu Bay.
With hiking one of our favourite pastimes, if you need any more suggestions on where to walk, come talk to your friendly, hiking enthusiast Criffel Peak Hosts, Suzie and Caroline.