Guide12 hours Wanaka
A place where every house in town seems to have a million-dollar view, can’t be a bad place to spend 12 hours, and with endless activities both indoor and out, Wanaka will be sure to charm even the toughest of critics.
The neatest things to see, eat and do.
When the locals aren’t out and about in the forests, hills or lake, you’ll find them in town eating, drinking and wearing some of the best in the business, and you should join them.
Not surprisingly this is a town of early-risers, and how can you blame them when you’re waking up to a view as magnificent as Lake Wanaka. Join the locals and head out into town bright and early to see what’s going on.
47 Helwick Street
Start your Wanaka holiday off the way the locals do, and that’s with a coffee and eats from much loved town institution Federal Diner. Tucked down an alleyway on Helwick Street, don’t let the hideaway nature of the place fool you. Fed is constantly cranking from dawn till dusk as visitors come in for their Emporio coffee (filter or Chemex style, you choose) and the best damn scones in town.
47 Helwick Street
Sharing the same address means you won’t have to walk far to find yourself in 47 Frocks, a beautifully curated fashion store where the latest threads and accessories from NZ designers are centre stage. The fun, smiley and attentive staff ensure customers have an enjoyable time choosing some of the luxe items, so you can walk lakeside dressed to impress for the rest of your Wanaka visit.
33 Helwick Street
If you prefer hanging beautiful things on the wall rather than wearing them, then Gallery 33 best be your next port of call. Playful pieces and art that packs a punch keep things from being too serious here, and if you find something you’d like to take home but have travelled some way to be in Wanaka, never fear, the team are well accustomed to sending pieces all around the globe.
As the morning rush passes don’t be fooled into thinking there’s a lull in action in town. If numbers have decreased since the AM it’s probably because everyone is out hiking, biking, kayaking or swimming. Feel free to do the same, but just know there’s plenty more to see in town too.
75 Brownston Street
When you’ve finished picking your new piece of art to be shipped home, you best top it off with some beautiful homewares too, and lucky for you, The Workroom is just around the corner to help with exactly that. Home to some of the most beautiful furniture, linen, prints and flowers in town, walking in to The Workroom spells danger for anyone trying to save their pennies. That's because the team here source stunning items from India, Mexico, Bali and France which really are hard to turn down. But hey, you’re only here for a spell, so why not treat yourself?
Cardrona Valley Road, Cardrona
You’ll be feeling peckish by now and we sure don’t blame you, but hold your horses just a moment more and make your way out to Cardrona Hotel, a so-loved favourite for visitors it’s rumoured to be the most photographed building in the country. Here you’ll find a rustic place rich in history, and once you’ve explored the grounds and finished your selfies, tuck in to the hearty menu items that are artful variations on old pub classics.
An afternoon in Cardrona Valley is something traveller dreams are made of, hence why you’ll see so many beaming people out this way, and if you don’t check yourself you’ll end up just like them.
2125 Cardrona Valley Road
What better way to finish a midday meal than with some variation of a digestif, and what’s better than one made in the very valley you’re currently in? Slide on over to Cardrona Distillery then and try some of the Single Malt Vodka, award-winning Rosehip Gin and deliciously powerful New Zealand Orange Liqueur made on site. While you’re at it, take a look around the place on a guided tour, and learn from those in the know about what makes an artisan spirit taste so much better than its counterparts.
Rhyme and Reason
17 Gordon Road
Perhaps beer is more your thing than spirits, but if you were thinking that means you’d have to settle for less, you can think again. Situated in the ‘backblocks’ of Wanaka, Rhyme & Reason is proof that even smaller towns can punch well above their weight when it comes to craft beer, and with an easy-going vibe that welcomes people to bring their own snacks even, you’re going to find this place very hard to leave. While you’re here, join the tour that takes you around the machinery and hear about the magic that goes into making some of the finest beer in town.
Maude Wines Tasting Room
76A Golf Course Road
It sure is lucky you bought that sober driver with you, because the sampling of Wanaka’s finest spirits, beer and wine is near impossible to turn down. Put your feet up at Maude Wines Tasting Room and soak up the serenity that comes from being just a stone’s throw from the town centre. Let the smart staff lead you through the tasting process, and enjoy being regaled with stories of the vineyard while you’re at it.
Evening time may be cooler on the thermometer but you still need to be able to handle the heat of a fun night out in town.
The White House
33 Dunmore Street
All that sipping of fine wines sure can get the appetite up, so when you’re ready to roll in for dinner park up in town and make your way to the wonderfully haphazard White House, where you best have your eyes peeled or you’ll end up walking right on by. Managing that fine line of being deservedly proud of its food without being in any way pretentious, this restaurant’s charm is in its fantastic menu that depends mostly on what the chef feels like cooking. But you can trust the rave reviews of the locals to know that this is where to come for one of the best dinner experiences in town.
14 Helwick Street
Back on the main street is a great place to finally wind down (or heat up!) your night, and because that’s always more fun with other people, join the casual crowd at Cork, an intimate bar with plenty of specialized cocktails. Let the fun bartenders mix you up something new (if you thought you’d tried every gin & tonic combination under the sun you best think again), and cosy in to the dimly-lit booths at Wanaka’s favourite new drink spot.