Wanaka is a small town located at the doorstep of Mount Aspiring National Park and overlooking Lake Wanaka. In recent years, Wanaka has become a popular destination for adventure tourism, with activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, hiking and jet boating. Despite its growing tourism industry, Wanaka managed to maintain a small-town feel with a friendly community and a relaxed pace of life. It’s a great town to base yourself in for a couple of days to relax and explore the great outdoors. Luckily there are plenty of accommodations in Wanaka varying from beautiful lake-view apartments and five-star hotels to basic rooms and vacation homes. Find in our complete guide everything about where to stay in Wanaka including the best Wanaka accommodations.
Best area in Wanaka to stay
Wanaka is a relatively small town which means that all areas are within easy reach of restaurants and the lakeshore. However, some areas may be more suitable for you than others, depending on your preferences and way of transport.
Basically, there are 5 areas where you can stay in and near Wanaka.
- Wanaka town centre. The town center is the heart of Wanaka, and it’s an ideal location for those who want to be close to shops, restaurants, and nightlife. It’s also a convenient base for exploring Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains.
- Wanaka Lakefront. The lakefront area is a picturesque location with stunning views of Lake Wanaka and the mountains. There are only a few hotels and apartments located along the lake, and they often are fully booked because of their stunning location. So if you find availability, make sure to secure your place!
- Hawea. Lake Hawea is a 15-minute drive northeast of Wanaka. It’s a great destination for those who prefer a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere than the bustling town center of Wanaka. There are several accommodation options in Lake Hawea, including holiday parks, motels, lodges, and bed and breakfasts.
- Cardrona Valley. Cardrona Valley is about a 20-minute drive from Wanaka, and it’s a popular location for skiing and snowboarding during the winter season. It’s an ideal location for those who want to enjoy the snow and outdoor activities.
- Albert Town. Albert Town is a quiet and peaceful suburb located about 5 kilometers north of Wanaka. It’s an ideal location for those who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the town center while still being close to its attractions.
Where to stay in Wanaka town centre
Staying in Wanaka town center obviously means you have the most facilities within walking distance. With Lake Wanaka at your doorstep, a cute food truck park and plenty of other restaurants and cafes across the lake, Wanaka town center is a lively and popular place to be.
Here are the best Wanaka accommodations in the center.
The stylish self-contained holiday apartments are only 600 meters away from Wanaka center and the lakeshore. The 29 apartments provide a choice of 1, 2 or 3 bedroom apartments with either a kitchen or kitchenette. Located along a quiet street with stunning mountain views, the Wanaka Luxury Apartments have great reviews. The outdoor pool (heated!) and jacuzzi are an extra facility to enjoy that will make your stay unforgettable. Perfect for couples and families!
Almost lakefront located, Wanaka Homestead Lodge & Cottages has the choice of B&B accommodation or self-catering cottages. All rooms and cottages have an en suite bathroom, heating and satellite TV. The cottages are spacious with generous living areas and well-equipped kitchens making it a perfect family-friendly stay.
Club Wyndham Wanaka is a great place to stay in Wanaka if you want to have all the convenience and luxury of a hotel but also your own kitchen in the room. All the one and two-bedroom apartments at Club Wyndham Wanaka have a private balcony or courtyard including a kitchenette or full kitchen. The outdoor heated pool, waterslide, hot tub, sauna and an onsite bar of Club Wyndham provide everything you need to relax in the hotel while still being close to the center.
Te Wanaka Lodge is a beautiful contemporary bed and breakfast in the heart of Wanaka with rustic spacious double rooms. All rooms feature their own en-suite bathroom and small private balcony. Guests can enjoy the cedar hot tub in the garden and wood-burning stoves in one of the charming lounges. This luxury lodge is the perfect place to stay in Wanaka if you love a rustic alpine character with all the modern amenities you need.
Part of the Youth Hostels Association, YHA Wanaka is the best hostel you can find in the area. With dorm beds in shared rooms or a private room, this cheap hotel is great value for money. The communal facilities are perfect for relaxing, including a billiards table, reading area, balcony, and movie room. The open-plan living with a guest kitchen and dining area with log fire is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the spectacular views of the lake. This is one of the more popular hotels in Wanaka so the rooms and beds sell out quickly. So if you want to grab the best deal, then make sure to secure your room or dorm bed quickly!
Best places to stay in Wanaka along the lake
The Edgewater Hotel is a stunning lakefront hotel that has hotel rooms and apartments with picturesque lake views. It is only a one-minute walk from your hotel room to the lakeshore and the famous Wanaka tree. With a day spa, sauna, tennis court and a a restaurant and cafe, there is nothing you will miss during your stay at the Edgewater Hotel. Without a doubt some of the best Wanaka hotels.
This gorgeous two-bedroom apartment is a home away from home with all the amenities you need and a stunning view of Lake Wanaka. With a fully equipped kitchen including a dishwasher, a patio with incredible mountain and lake views, a shared indoor swimming pool and a short walk from Wanaka town, this luxury apartment is everything you need.
This 90sqm lakefront apartment has everything you need. It’s situated right in the center of Wanaka and has stunning lake views throughout the rooms. The luxury one-bedroom apartment features a large double bed with en suite bathroom, a kitchen with a fridge and a dishwasher, a washing machine and towels and bed linen.
Where to stay in Hawea
The Camp is located along Lake Hawea and is one of the most beautiful locations you can stay near Wanaka. With direct access to the lake, a private beach with mountain views and a wide range of accommodation options, The Camp offers something for every budget. From Glamping tents to Lakeside cottages, Tiny houses and a campground with shared bathroom facilities and public BBQ, The Camp is a place where you can feel at home. We stayed in one of the tents with a stunning lake view and felt so at peace surrounded by nature. A great choice if you want to be closely located to Wanaka and have some of the most incredible views at your doorstep.
Located on a 15-minute drive from Wanaka town, Hawea Hotel is a great budget-friendly option and gives lovely boutique hotel vibes. With this choice you can still stay close to Wanaka and have wonderful lake views, but then on Lake Hawea. All hotel rooms, as well as the on-site restaurant and bar, feature beautiful lake and mountain views. The rooms include a flat-screen TV, of course free wi-fi, a private bathroom, a desk, and a small seating area.
Where to stay in Cardrona
The spacious apartments of Cardrona Mountain Chalets have stunning mountain views and are a 20-minute drive away from Wanaka. The apartments have 1 or 3 bedrooms and are fully equipped with a kitchen, bathrooms with a shower, and a hot tub. Towels and bed linen are provided in the apartment. Guests can enjoy the on-site spa center and use the barbecue responsibly.
The Cardrona Hotel has a range of luxury suites and villas varying from 1-bedroom queen rooms, rooms with twin beds, family rooms and villas with 3 bedrooms. There is an iconic on-site restaurant and bar which you can enjoy while sipping a drink on the patio overlooking the gardens. Cardrona Hotel also features a hot tub, a ski drying room and ski storage, as well as a shared lounge and laundry facilities. The hotel is closely located to the Cardrona ski field which makes it a perfect stay during the winter ski season.
Where to stay in Albert Town
Albert Town is a quiet charming town on 5 minutes driving from Wanaka. It’s the perfect place for families or couples that want to unwind in a very relaxing and charming area. Albert Town Bach holiday home is a great option with 2 bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen with a fridge and a dishwasher, a TV, living area, and 1 bathroom equipped with a shower. The spacious garden gives plenty of space to enjoy the sunshine or for kids to play. This is a true home away from home with everything you need.
The modern apartments of Alpine Junction Townhouse Apartments have everything you need. A fully equipped kitchen, dishwasher, a patio or balcony allows you to prepare home-cooked meals and enjoy the sunshine from your apartment. If you don’t need a kitchen then there are also rooms available. Perfect if you just need to spend a night somewhere clean and modern.
Wanaka is one of the beautiful picturesque towns of the South Island of New Zealand. Known for its stunning natural scenery, crystal-clear lake, and world-class outdoor activities, Wanaka offers everything for nature lovers. Surrounded by the Southern Alps and at the doorstep of Mount Aspiring National Park, Wanaka town has breathtaking views all around. Besides all the activities, Wanaka also has plenty of facilities such as great restaurants ranging from great cafes to fine dining, food trucks, boutique shops and supermarkets.
Most of the accommodation options in Wanaka are located in the centre of town. However, there are also some gorgeous luxury hotels on a short drive from Wanaka. Cardrona and Lake Hawea for example are great options if you want to stay somewhere really quiet but on a 15-minute drive from Wanaka’s lively but serene centre.
How to get around in New Zealand
To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a car, campervan or motorhome is the best way to get around for a road trip. Which one of these options you choose depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots, but for some of them you’ll have to make a reservation and plan your trip accordingly. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand.
Car rental in New Zealand
Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are still gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for this kind of roads.
The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pickup date.
Campervan rental in New Zealand
Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a road trip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will give you a true feeling of freedom and fully connects you with nature.
We personally recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn as they have a wide range of Station wagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 roadside assistance & long-term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream road trip!
Best tours around Wanaka
Wānaka is a popular ski and summer alpine town which is the ultimate hub for outdoor adventures. Closely located to Mount Aspiring National Park there are plenty of tours to explore this dreamland of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes. From scenic flights, jet boating, and parasailing to hiking and biking, there is an activity for everyone. Find here the best tours in Wanaka.
Scenic flight Self-guided Hike and Jet Boat Ride
This action-packed tour lets you explore Mount Aspiring National Park by plane, boat and on foot. Soar over the snow-capped mountains during a scenic flight, hike along the banks of the Siberia River, then hop aboard for a thrilling jet boat ride along the Wilkin River.
Wine Tour with Wine Tasting and lunch from Wanaka
On this afternoon tour you will visit four boutique wineries in one of New Zealand’s most popular wine regions. You will learn the secrets behind these wines from the winemakers themselves, and stop at one winery for a gourmet food with wine matching. Transport from your accommodation in Wanaka is included.
Wanaka Lake boat ride and 4×4 jeep Mountain Adventure
Get away from the crowds on this boat ride and 4×4 day trip from Wanaka. Start with a boat ride across Lake Wanaka and then you’ll hop aboard the 4×4 vehicle and drive up into the mountains. Your guide will tell you stories from Otago’s pioneer history and the gold rush era. Enjoy a delicious picnic with spectacular lake and mountain views.
Half-Day Level 2 Waterfall Climbing from Wanaka
Get the adrenaline pumping with this half-day adventurous tour. Climb steel ladders and cross high, narrow bridges over waterfalls, swim in hidden natural pools and enjoy a picnic lunch beside beautiful falls. While no experience is required and full safety briefings are given, this trip is best suited to active travelers who are sure-footed and unafraid of heights.
Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk Tour from Wanaka
Speed along the Matukituki River in Mount Aspiring National Park during this exhilarating jet-boat ride. Admire spectacular landscapes, then hike past forests, waterfalls, and glacier-fed streams before ending your tour.
Feel free like a bird and fly high above Lake Wanaka during this single or tandem flight.
Riverside Biking Tour Lake Wanaka
Go on a stunning guided bike ride along the banks of one of NZ’s most beautiful and powerful rivers. Beautiful vistas and plenty of photo opportunities make this a must-do trip for hiking and nature lovers. A medium level of fitness is required for this 10-kilometre ride.
More New Zealand travel guides
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the best places to stay in Wanaka and that it will help you to make a decision about where to stay in Wanaka.
There are many amazing other things to do and places to visit on the South Island of New Zealand. So if you’re looking for more inspiration and ideas, head over to our other New Zealand travel guides and read more!