We live in an age where a single egg can rack up 10 million followers on Instagram and over 52 million likes on one post (not kidding, look up @world_record_egg). So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that in Lake Wanaka, there is a lonely tree growing in the middle of the lake that is aptly named #thatwanakatree, and has over 37 thousand posts dedicated to its splendor. That’s right, folks flying in to Queenstown / Christchurch from all over the globe are making the trek to this small town of Wanaka about 70km north of Queenstown to photograph, video, and post about this damn tree.. and here I am also blogging about it. But really, the tree does make for some amazing pictures.
But aside from the famous tree, Wanaka town has a lot going for it, including a kid-friendly beach area, a growing restaurant and bar scene, and even a small food truck movement serving up a host of millennial favorites ranging from Amazon acai bowls to gluten free, firewood pizzas. Sleeping accommodations are still a bit lacking at the moment, but new boutique hotels and quaint B&Bs are sprouting every year to make your stay much more enjoyable. But of course, if you are traveling like a boss in a campervan, you can just stay in one of the many holiday parks in the area (you can read about my bias to campervans here).
A fun fact about New Zealand’s South Island – an overwhelming majority of the land mass is considered to be a national park, and maintained in exquisite condition. This also means there are scores of hiking options in the region, some that are quite arduous (like Avalanche Peak), and some that are more docile (like Hooker Valley). Fortunately for the Goldilocks in all of us, there is a happy medium – and it is Roy’s Peak located in the outskirts of Wanaka. Aside from the fact that the mountain carried my namesake, the views from the top were purported to be amazing (soon thereafter verified), and we were up for a physical challenge after days of driving around the island.
Make no mistake, the roughly 5-6 hours estimated round trip hike duration as suggested by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation was spot on for us. And yes, that means at least 3 hours of climbing up the mountain. But as they say, nothing good is gained without a bit of hard work. And once you get to the top, rest assured you’ll be well-rewarded with spectacular views of the Wanaka lake and the surrounding landscape (and of course the burned calories to go for a Fergburger). *Pro-tip* bring sun screen, water, and a power bar to keep you energized and protected as you scale the peak!
For a relatively small town, Wanaka has a lot to offer, and definitely deserves a day out of your busy itinerary. Happy travels!