Love getting out in the great outdoors? Can’t wait to hit the trails? Wanaka provides some of the best walking tracks in the Otago region, complete with stunning mountain vistas, beautiful native forest, and famously picturesque lakes!

With so many great hikes to choose from, it can be tricky to narrow it down, so we have put together this great guide to the best walks in and around Wanaka to help you out. Stay safe and have fun out there!

1. Roys Peak Track

The must-do walking track for many, Roy’s Peak is probably the most popular hike in Wanaka. Its ridgeline the feature of countless Instagram pics and selfies, this absolutely beautiful 16 km hike will more than deliver on all of the things you would expect from hiking in the mountains. Including epic views of Lake Wanaka from above and some stunning photo ops of the surrounding southern alps- complete with snow-capped mountains, rugged rocky slopes and windswept valleys.

The Roys Peak hike will cover a reasonably challenging elevation rise of around 1578 metres – so be prepared for a pretty good workout to get all the way to the top. The track is very exposed all of the way (there is no shade or shelter) so make sure you take a sunhat, sunscreen and a good amount of water.

2. Isthmus Peak Track

The Isthmus Peak hike is similar to Roys Peak; however, the climb is on the narrow section of land that lays between Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka just before the point where the two lakes almost meet. The track is considered an advanced level hike, but it is fairly well-formed, following an old 4WD track for most of the way. After zig-zagging your way to the top, you will be rewarded with amazing views over both Lakes and the majestic southern alps in the distance.

Isthmus Peak is a great day hike option that offers a slightly less crowded track than the Roys Peak hike. However, most of the trail is steep and uncovered; you will need good sun protection and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.

Walking At The Isthmus Peak

3. Rocky Mountain And Diamond Lake Tracks

The perfect option for those with different preferences within the group, the Rocky Mountain and Diamond Lake hike has several variations. The first section of the track winds its way upward towards Diamond Lake, from here; you can choose to either hike around the Lake on a loop track (2.5 km, approx. 45 minutes), or head further upward completing the Lower Circuit track, and/or upper circuit track (known as the Rocky Mountain Summit Track at 3 hr return, 7 km). You can also incorporate a detour along the Diamond Lake Lookout Track.

All of the trails are relatively easy to walk and follow, but the best views are from the top. You will see the grand alpine vistas of the Treble Cone ski field and  Mt Aspiring, the Motatapu River and back up to Glendhu Bay. Head off fairly early in the day to avoid the heat of the sun and make sure you have good sturdy walking boots.

4. Motatapu Track

Speaking of the Motatapu River, the Motatapu Track is next on our list, with a more challenging multiday hike across the historic route that linked the Wanaka and Arrowtown areas. Now this one is definitely not for the inexperienced tramper; you will need to carry a full gear list and enough food and water for the trip. The Motatapu trail offers interesting variation in the terrain and passes through beautiful beech forest, meanders along the riverside, and crosses beautiful ridges and spurs – really immersing you in the Wanaka landscape.

The track provides several DOC huts along the way, which break up the walk into sizeable chunks for you. The Fern Burn Hut is approximately 7 km along, then comes the Highland Creek Hut at another 6 km further on, and Roses Hut is the second-longest trek at a further 11 km. From here, it’s on to Macetown at a further 10 km; then the final day brings you to Arrowtown with a 15 km walk and river crossing.

5. Minaret Burn Track To Colquhouns Beach

This well-formed track provides easy access to some of Lake Wanaka’s beautiful beaches along its western shores. Most people hike the Minaret Burn track during the summer months with the intention of ending up at the sheltered Colquhouns Beach, a popular swimming and picnic spot.

There is a more extended option where you can hike further up into the Minaret Burn with the possibility of an overnight stay. The longer, more demanding trips will require a full gear list and are categorised as an ‘advanced’ level. This is a shared track; expect to see mountain bikers and horses along the way.

Minaret Burn Track

6. Upper Clutha River Track

An easy scenic walk accessible right from Albert Town, just 3 minutes drive from Wanaka’s town centre. This beautiful little walk follows the shoreline of the Upper Clutha River all the way to Luggate. The perfect option for those who wish to take a less strenuous hike and enjoy some of the beautiful Wanaka scenery. Just be sure to organise someone to collect you at the other end!

Keep an eye out for both brown trout and rainbow trout in the river as you go, and allow plenty of time for a picnic lunch along the way. The track is well-formed and relatively flat, but you will still need decent walking shoes, and you might want to pack some insect repellent too! If you have the time and the energy – you can turn this into a loop track with the addition of the Newcastle Track, located on the opposite side of the river.

7. Sawyer Burn Track

About 40 minutes drive from Wanaka along State Highway 6, you will find the entrance to the Sawyer Burn Track at the Kidds Bush Campsite (along with the Kidds Bush Nature Walk if you are interested). This short little hike heads pretty much straight up the Sawyer Burn to its destination hut of the same name.

The track brings you through lush native forest before emerging at the top with stunning views out over Lake Hawea and beyond. This is not a particularly long or strenuous walk, making it great for the family group or a shorter option for those lacking in time. It’s a great spot to head out to for an afternoon of the outdoors before turning back the way you came.

8. Mt Iron Track

Just a couple of minutes from the Wanaka town centre you will find the entrance to the Mt Iron loop track. The great thing about this walk is it can easily be accomplished in a morning or afternoon at any time of the year and provides walkers with a titillating taste of what Wanaka’s great outdoors has to offer.

Mount Iron offers beautiful views out over Lake Wanaka, the Pisa range, the Upper Clutha Basin and Albertown, along with the beautiful Southern Alps mountains surrounding it all. Why not head up for sunrise to make it extra special or even give it a go at sunset. The Mount Iron loop track is an excellent option for all ages and abilities.

9. Skyline Track

One of the more challenging tracks you will encounter in Wanaka, the Skyline Track encompasses the Roys Peak track and continues on along the ridgeline towards Mt Alpha before heading down into the Cardrona Valley. Although, care is required in some parts of the track as it gets a little narrow and has steep drop-offs, the Skyline Track can be walked in either direction.

Enjoy the majestic mountain views of Mt Aspiring National Park as you walk, along with tussocky terrain and the tranquillity that comes only when immersed in the mountains of the South Island. This track is truly one of a kind and is well worth the extra effort.

10. Glendhu Bay Track

Beginning at the Waterfall Creek car park, the Glendhu Bay Track is the perfect choice for all levels of hikers, whether you are a seasoned pro or just out for a walk in the sunshine. And the best part is; the track begins in the Wanaka township and heads west around the lakeshore to Glendhu Bay, offering beautiful views of the Lake as you go.

The track is well-formed and primarily flat, which is also a bonus, although there are a few steeper climbs and descents along the way. Expect to find little shade or shelter from the hot sun so take appropriate sun protection, including hats and sunscreen, and you might want to pack some insect repellent too!

Tourist Riding Bike On Glendhu Bay Track

Please Note: While New Zealand’s Southern Alps are awe-inspiring and beautiful, as with any mountain ranges, weather conditions are subject to rapid changes. So always tell someone your plans before you head out on any of the walking tracks listed here. If you aren’t sure, try this helpful website  New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process run by the team at AdventureSmart (endorsed by NZ’s official search and rescue services).

Staying in Wanaka and need some warm, comfortable accommodation to rest those weary legs after a long hike in the Wanaka wilderness? Belvedere Luxury Apartments on Warren Street provide guest saunas, private balconies and a quiet, centrally located position just a few minutes’ walk from the shores of Lake Wanaka. Get in touch today to find out how we can assist you with  accommodation in Wanaka.