Your Guide to a Wellness Weekend in Wānaka

A healthy salad bowl and smoothie on a table outside at Dripping Bowl Wanaka.

Ah, Wānaka. Best known as a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, home to a multitude of tracks for feet shod in boots or pushing pedals, and a gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park. Set at the southern end of its namesake lake with famously panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, it’s a place where not only your eyes can feast but so too your mind, body and soul.

Words by: Izzie Thompson

Getting a good dose of mountain air is a time-honoured necessity for general well-being, and Wānaka must be one of the best places on the planet to replenish your wellness tank. This special resort town offers refuelling in more than just outdoor activities; there are healthy eating options aplenty, places of inspiration and rest, and facilitators of conversations around being a conscious consumer. In Wānaka, there’s more than what meets the eye – quite a feat, as what meets the eye here is truly exceptional.

Warm up your legs on one of the many scenic, multi-use trails – Outlet Track

Cafes key icon.

Beacon Point or Albert Town Campground, Wānaka

One of the pillars of wellness is physical health, and what better way to get a dose of exercise than by exploring some of the lush outdoors that Wānaka is so well known for.

The tree-lined Outlet Track follows the gentle curves of the Clutha River, from Albert Town to, you guessed it, the lake outlet. It can be explored on foot or by bike, and furry friends are welcome. Starting from either the Albert Town Bridge or Beacon Point, you can walk it one way or return. Going for a dip in the lake at Beacon Point for additional purported wellness is optional but undeniably revitalising.

Don’t forget snacks – swing past Dripping Bowl on your way and grab a couple of raw treats or a cold-pressed juice to have at one of the scenic spots along the picturesque riverside trail. 

Photo: Lake Wānaka Tourism

Take time out for yourself at Wānaka Lavender Farm

Cafes key icon.

36 Morris Road, Wānaka

While a rushing river and semi-wild nature are refreshing for the soul, wellness is about balance, and there’s a different kind of rejuvenation to be found in spending time in a well-tended garden. Head to Wānaka Lavender Farm, a place of exploration and inspiration, for a full, sensory experience. Meander around their colourful grounds, pet the friendly farm animals and pause for a moment of quiet between the rows of vibrant lavender.

Fill your (reusable) cup at Freshlink Grocer

Goods key icon.

82 Anderson Road, Wānaka

Most people will be familiar with the equation concerning physical activity and endorphin release. There’s actually a third balancing factor that’s no less important: eating well with a slow, thoughtful and nutritious approach. The best place to stock your pantry, where you can be certain that only considered whole foods will be on the shelves, is Freshlink, Wānaka’s local grocer.

On a mission to decrease the distance between producers and consumers, Freshlink sources and stocks fresh produce and dairy, whole food products and refillable kitchen, laundry and bathroom products that are as whole, local and sustainable as possible. The act of physically filling a container with goods, as opposed to picking up a pre-packaged item in a great hurry, is a rewarding and engaging way to forge a greater connection to your food (and its makers). And at Freshlink, you know that anything you put in your basket will be good for you.

Fresh, quality food – on the run - at Big Fig

Cafes key icon.

105 Ardmore Street, Wānaka

In keeping with the slow food ethos but twisting it in the direction of convenience, is Big Fig. Not ones to compromise on freshness, seasonality or quality, Big Fig produces delicious and healthy modern Middle Eastern food from their lakefront kitchen, canteen-style: choose from three plate sizes (if you’re not planning on dining in, bring your own takeaway container for a discount) and it’ll be filled with whichever rotating hot dishes and cold salads in the cabinet take your fancy.

There are plenty of options to cater for all dietary requirements. So many options, in fact, that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take something else away for your next meal, to be eaten from the top of a hill or on a deck with a view. And don’t forget to grab an item from the in-house bakery – from crunchy baklava to silky smooth honey fig cheesecake, that’s not going to be an easy decision either.

Find your next page-turner at The Next Chapter

72 Brownston Street, Wānaka

What wellness weekend would be complete without a good read? If you’re looking to start a new chapter, look no further than the cream and red-striped awning of The Next Chapter, Wānaka’s first independent bookstore. A quiet haven in central Wānaka, The Next Chapter may be tiny, but it has a comprehensive selection of titles on its shelves, and you can be confident that each has earned its space there. A proven stress reducer, the practice of reading can take you to another world – you just have to pick the genre.

Discover an object with a purpose at Revology Concept Store

Fashion key icon.

28 Helwick Street, Wānaka

Retail therapy, but make it a thoughtful, intentional learning experience. Revology Concept Store provides a space to slow down and reassess our consumption of material goods. Only quality, everyday objects with a purpose are found here. From bicycle repair kits, wooden Fair Trade kitchen tools, pocket notebooks (handmade from 100% recycled materials from Wastebusters - it doesn’t get much more local and circular than that), naked soap on a rope to a selection of house-blended teas, everything is ethically and sustainably made from materials that make sense environmentally, and that will stand the test of time. Be good to yourself and the planet by buying less and buying better.

Go on a second-hand treasure hunt at Wastebusters

Services key icon.

Ballantyne Road, Wānaka

Whether you’re overcome with inspiration to repurpose second-hand items (pocket notebook from your pick of fabric cover, anyone?), or keen to spend an hour or four fossicking through a vast array of odds and ends, Wastebusters is another must-visit when it comes to shopping for conscious living. Working for zero waste through reduction, reuse and recycling, Wastebusters is more than just an opshop; it’s a hub that connects people, learning and taking action for the environment. When Walt Disney said “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island,” he can’t have known about Wastebusters, a warehouse of treasure that encourages and educates lifestyle behavioural change – wellness for you and for the world. Priceless.

The domes at Cross Hill in Lake Hawea.

Soak in the views (and your legs) at Cross Hill Lodge and Domes

1208 Haast Pass-Makarora Road, Lake Hāwea

After a full day of activities, a sanctuary of premium comfort on the shore of Lake Hāwea awaits. What better way to nurture your body (mind, and soul) than by having a long soak in an outdoor hot tub, taking in the dramatic mountain skyline? Set in the foothills of a high-country station is Cross Hill Lodge and Domes, home to unique, boutique geo dome accommodation, the aforementioned hot tub situation, and an in-house massage service.

The domes are nestled on the hillside, individual cocoons of relaxation with floor-to-‘ceiling’ windows that bring the remote, peaceful setting in and facilitate spectacular stargazing come night-time. Breathe in the clear mountain air, and let go of any last troubles. Wake up replenished.

Neat Wānaka Places

Pembroke Wines & Spirits

Life is too short to drink bad wine sign at Pembroke Wines & Spirits, Wānaka.
Place Wānaka
Goods key icon.

Pembroke Wines & Spirits is a boutique bottle shop that delivers more than you thought you ever needed.

Kika

Flatlay of plates of food from Kika.
Place Wānaka Editor's Pick
Restaurants key icon.

Dark and elegant, Kika is an award-winning restaurant tucked away from Wānaka's main street.

Untouched World

Inside Untouched World, Wānaka.
Place Wānaka
Fashion key icon.

In true Untouched World style, the Wānaka branch of the fashion brand with a non-negotiable stance on sustainability and ethics is nothing short of spectacular.

Fedeli

The-entrance-to-fedeli
Place Wānaka
Cafes key icon.

A deli with a difference, Fedeli speaks volumes about creating an aesthetically pleasing space that offers up salads, pastries and coffee done well.