The Adventure Capital of the World may be Queenstown, but its nearby cousin and neighbor, Wanaka, is a close contender! This is, after all, a town of 8000 that caters to 300,000 tourists every year!

So with numbers like that, it’s no wonder things can run a bit to the expensive side. That’s why we’ve sorted out this insider guide on where to stay in Wanaka, so you can choose the best area for you! It’s broken down by different priorities so whatever your travel style, we’ve got something that suits!

Sorting your accommodation should be the easy part, so you can get on with working out which adrenaline-pumping, heart-pounding activities you’re going to throw yourself into first.

So here we go: our very best ideas and recommendations to help you kick it like a Kiwi, confident you know exactly where to stay in Wanaka!

Where to Stay in Wanaka

Not worried about where you’ll be and just looking for a fit for you? Check out our top picks for Wanaka in general! If you’re a money-conscious backpacker, we’d recommend staying at one of the epic hostels in Wanaka. Meet like-minded travellers, rest your head in a comfy bed, and keep the costs low!

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Flying Kiwi Backpackers | Best Hostel in Wanaka

The Flying Kiwi Backpackers offers budget-friendly accommodation to individuals, couples, small groups and small families. The perfect base for your stay in Wanaka, whether it is an action-packed adventure stopover or a laid-back getaway

Wanaka Homestead Lodge & Cottages | Best Hotel in Wanaka

Wanaka Homestead Lodge and Cottages is set on South Island and offers 4-star facilities as well as a Jacuzzi and free Wi-Fi. It also provides a swimming pool, room service and free bicycle rental. Lodge offers a golf course, a tour desk and luggage storage.

Private Room in Shared Creekside Apartment | Best Airbnb in Wanaka

Just a two minutes walk away from the town center, this charming private room is ideal for first-time visitors. Located in a quiet residential area, you’ll be given a lot or privacy, eventhough you’ll be sharing communal areas. Thoughtfully decorated and furnished, you’ll also have access to all basic ammenities and even free breakfast.

Wanaka Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Wanaka

FIRST TIME IN WANAKA
Pembroke Park, Wanaka
FIRST TIME IN WANAKA

Pembroke Park

This is the area running along the edge of Pembroke Park and the Wanaka Recreational Reserve. It’s a combination of in the middle of town, right by the lake, and near some of the main attractions!

ON A BUDGET
Lakeside Road, Wanaka
ON A BUDGET

Lakeside Road

You’d usually find a place called ‘Lakeside Road’ to be quite pricey in most parts of the world. But since there is so much coastline to go around, this is actually one of the more affordable parts of town.

NIGHTLIFE
Brownston Street, Wanaka
NIGHTLIFE

Brownston Street

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” Once written by Shakespeare, this line could easily refer to Wanaka-town as a nightlife destination!

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
Lake Hawea, Wanaka
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Lake Hawea

For this, we’ve sent you a little way out of town, sorry. To the next lake over, in fact! Hawea is the sleepier sister of Wanaka, but the surrounding activities are anything but sleep-inducing!

FOR FAMILIES
Albert Town, Wanaka
FOR FAMILIES

Albert Town

For the families, too, we’ve nudged you a little way from the main township. It’s for your own good, we promise! Albert Town sits on a bend in the outlet channel from Lake Wanaka, where the water splits into two rivers.

Wanaka is a small resort town in the South Island of New Zealand. It sits on the southern tip of Lake Wanaka, in the shadow of the majestic Southern Alps. It takes about an hour to get to Wanaka from Queenstown, over the Crown Range.

It’s a popular spot in both summer and winter and offers an absolute smorgasboard of adventure-activities for the adrenaline junkies among us. There are more chilled things to do as well, and Wanaka is home to galleries and boutiques as well as a lake and mountains!

And just like everywhere in New Zealand, there are cafes galore where you can find the perfect cup, or cake.

The town itself is small, but there are areas around the lake you can pop into, to suss your favourite spot.

There’s Glendhu Bay, where weddings take place, with magnificent views from the Station where they’re held. And Boundary Creek, for the wild outdoors type of stay (bring mosquito repellent). Or Dublin Bay, one of New Zealand’s best glamping spots.

For amenities and services, you’ll want to be close to town, but if the lack thereof doesn’t bother you – why not see what’s round that next curve in the lake?

Wanaka’s Five Best Neighborhoods to Stay in…

We’ve picked the five best areas to stay in Wanaka, both right in town and a little way out.

1. Pembroke Park – Where to Stay in Wanaka Your First Time

This is the area running along the edge of Pembroke Park and the Wanaka Recreational Reserve. It’s a combination of in the middle of town, right by the lake, and near some of the main attractions!

You’re really close to ‘That Wanaka Tree’, the tongue-in-cheek icon of the town that is an absolute must for any album. Whether you’re being insta-ironic or deadly serious, it’s an epic photo either way!

The lake itself is a short walk (like about 50 metres) from our accommodation picks, and it’s a stunner, summer or winter.

Pembroke Park, Wanaka

In summer, you can get out on the lake fishing, swimming or boating. All of these are a real treat on or in that crystal clear water. Temperatures can be cold (the whole area is a glacial basin) but ever-so-refreshing!

For your first time staying in Wanaka, you’ll no doubt also want to get into some of those hikes. These aren’t actually in Pembroke Park area but are a short drive away and a must-do for all summer visitors.

Don’t worry – there are about 500 miles worth of trails in the area, so you can really do a ‘The Proclaimers’ style odyssey if you wish and walk those 500 and then 500 more!

Oh, and also nearby is the Rippon vineyard, which has daily tastings of its sublime reds all year round!

Wanaka View Motel | Best Motel in Pembroke Park

Wanaka View Motel is easily one of the best motels in Wanaka and provides comfortable 3-star accommodation. There are a variety of facilities available to those staying at Motel Wanaka View, including a tour desk, ski lockers and luggage storage. Guests have access to a terrace and a barbecue area.

Wanaka Luxury Apartments | Best Hotel in Pembroke Park

Wanaka Luxury Apartments offers 5-star accommodation with a Jacuzzi. It has a spa, as well as an outdoor heated pool, a beauty centre and a sun deck. There are a variety of facilities at the property that guests can enjoy, such as a lake, free bicycle rental and a golf course.

Private Room in Shared Creekside Apartment | Best Airbnb in Pembroke Park

Just a two minutes walk away from the town center, this charming private room is ideal for first-time visitors. Located in a quiet residential area, you’ll be given a lot of privacy, even though you’ll be sharing communal areas. Thoughtfully decorated and furnished, you’ll also have access to all basic amenities and even free breakfast.

YHA Wanaka Purple Cow | Best Hostel in Pembroke Park

Lively, cosy, and comfortable with stunning views out to Lake Wanaka and the mountains, YHA Wanaka is an incredibly popular hostel year-round. Their relaxed, welcoming vibe and open plan living/dining area get rave reviews in the likes of Lonely Planet.

Things to See and Do in Pembroke Park

  1. Go to the lake, obviously!
  2. Take a pic at #thatwanakatree.
  3. Visit Rippon vineyard and sample their wares.
  4. Catch a film at Cinema Paradiso and sit in a comfy sofa, armchair, or a car!
  5. Walk the 70 metres up the road to the centre of town!
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2. Lakeside Road – Where to Stay in Wanaka on a Budget

You’d usually find a place called ‘Lakeside Road’ to be quite pricey in most parts of the world. But since there is so much coastline to go around, this is actually one of the more affordable parts of town.

It’s the stretch of waterfront road that runs up the east bank of the lake from the middle of town. The road is really called ‘Lakeside Road’ – that’s a title, not just our description!

We’ve chosen it as our best place to stay in Wanaka when you’re on a budget because of its manageable accommodation, as well as its proximity to the town centre.

It’d take you a staggering five minutes to walk from any of our accommodation picks to the main area of restaurants and bars, so you’re right amongst it all anyway!

Lakeside Road, Wanaka

And you’re literally right on the lake. Having breakfast with these views stretching in front of you is a great start to any day you might have planned.

There are heaps of green spaces in this part of Wanaka too, and the one called ‘Dinosaur Park’ is always a favourite with kids and big kids alike!

Wanaka Yacht Club is here as well, so you can debate which boat you’d have, if you had the choice, or you can set about hiring one from the Yacht Charters just down the way, for some water-based adventures!

Wanaka Bakpaka | Best Hostel in Lakeside Road

Wanaka Bakpaka has a stunning view overlooking Lake Wanaka. Whether it be summer or winter the Lake and Mountains are always showing off! Our lounge and dining room are T.V free which allows guests to relax, chat to fellow travelers or enjoy a nice glass of wine.

Lakeview Motel Wanaka | Best Hotel in Lakeside Road

Lakeview Motel Wanaka is situated close to the area’s tourist attractions. The motel boasts views of the mountains, as well as Lake Wanaka. The motel’s rooms are comfortable and feature a kitchenette that is equipped with a refrigerator and a microwave.

Panorama Court | Best Hotel in Lakeside Road

Panorama Court has 6 spacious apartments offering all the essentials to ensure a comfortable stay. There are also multiple apartments especially for families. Bars and dining options near this property are plentiful as it is located in the centre of Wanaka’s famous nightlife district.

Things to See and Do in Lakeside Road

  1. Head to the Yacht Club to check out what’s moored.
  2. Get to the Dinosaur Park for a run-around (if you’re not worn out from all your adventure activities)!
  3. Charter a yacht and live a life of luxury with the money you’ve saved on your accommodation and transport!
  4. See things from a different angle, with Wanaka Parasailing (just past the Yacht Charter place).
  5. Grab breakfast and a latte from the appropriately named ‘The Good Spot’ – it comes highly recommended!

3. Brownston Street – Best Area to Stay in Wanaka for Nightlife

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” Once written by Shakespeare, this line could easily refer to Wanaka-town as a nightlife destination!

There is a small patch, on Ardmore Street, between the roundabout and Dungarvon Street, that is home to a high-concentration of evening hot-spots.

Whether you’re after a backpacker type shots bar or a more refined craft cocktail experience, there’s a place here for you. Wanaka’s size belies the punch it packs, and you won’t go disappointed, or thirsty.

Brownston Street, Wanaka

Brownston Street is one street back from this legendary strip, and has a couple of pubs along its length too. That’s why we’ve chosen it as the best place to stay in Wanaka for nightlife. Home is only about a five minute walk from wherever you choose to spend or end your evening!

New Zealand loves its craft beers and quality wines, and Wanaka is no exception to that. LaLaLand, in particular, is known for both, and its cocktails. Start your evening here before heading to the super-cool evirons of Rove, where you can dance the night away!

Private Guesthouse in the Centre of Town | Best Airbnb in Brownston Street

Conveniently located right in the centre of the town, this cosy space is perfect for those who want to experience the nightlife in Wanaka. It consists of a modern shower and toilet, a bar fridge and a smart TV with complimentary Amazon movies so you can rest the day after a big night out.

Alpine Motel Wanaka | Best Hotel in Brownston Street

There are a variety of amenities at Alpine Motel that guests can enjoy, such as an express check-in and check-out feature, a playground and a golf course. The motel’s rooms are spacious and offer a kitchenette that is equipped with a refrigerator, a microwave and a toaster.

Te Wanaka Lodge | Best Hotel in Brownston Street

Those staying at Te Wanaka can relax in their luxurious rooms that offer wireless internet access, a refrigerator and tea and coffee making facilities. Te Wanaka Lodge serves breakfast each morning and has a bar where guests can unwind with a drink.

Base Wanaka | Best Hostel in Brownston Street

Only a couple of minutes walk from what can only be rated as one of the most beautiful lake and mountain views in the world! With two floors of accommodation, BASE Wanaka is setting a new standard in budget with luxury backpacker accommodation.

Things to See and Do in Brownston Street

  1. Check out the Wanaka War Memorial – fantastic views as well!
  2. Wander lakeside with a gelato from Black Peak.
  3. Enjoy a local wine at Kai Whakapai. Ask a local how to pronounce this one. They’re not swearing, that’s how you say it!
  4. Get crafty with your cocktails at LaLaLand.
  5. Top up your cultural tank with a visit to Wanaka Fine Art Gallery.
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4. Lake Hawea – Coolest place to stay in Wanaka

For this, we’ve sent you a little way out of town, sorry. To the next lake over, in fact!

Hawea is the sleepier sister of Wanaka, but the surrounding activities are anything but sleep-inducing!

This town is much more off the tourist trail, so you’ll not feel like one of a million on their way through. It’s also a very local experience, with not a whole lot in the way of eateries or pubs. In fact, there’s one ‘store’ that doubles as the local restaurant.

But it’s that small-town charm and authenticity that have earned Lake Hawea its stripes as the coolest area to stay near Wanaka.

Lake Hawea, Wanaka

You’ll have the lakefront, and the views, pretty much to yourselves. There’s a stunning drive that runs along the west bank of Lake Hawea, crossing to the east bank of Lake Wanaka and heading north. It’s from this main branch highway that you turn in to Hawea, and find your spot.

If you do want a bit more hustle and bustle, Wanaka is a 15 minute drive away – closer than most trips between neighborhoods in bigger cities!

From Hawea, you’re also well placed for the stunning Timaru River Road walk that takes you on a scenic journey through to the picnic area at Timaru Creek.

Stunning Pembroke Studio in Old Wanaka | Best Airbnb in Lake Hawea

This beautifully decorated and stylish studio is located only a short stroll away from the old town, restaurants and the beautiful lake. Clean and full of modern ammenities, this impeccable and sparkling clean space is everything you could hope for during your stay in Wanaka. Note that there’s no cooking facilities, but a lot of food options in the old town.

Lake Hawea Hostel | Best Hostel in Lake Hawea

Facing the stunning Lake Hawea, surrounded by the breathtaking Southern Alps mountains, the Lake Hawea Hostel offers affordable accommodations. From private double bedroom to bunk beds in a dormitory, all rooms are comfortable and simple.

Lake Hawea Hotel | Best Hotel in Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea Hotel is situated in Hawea and provides recently renovated rooms and complimentary Wi-Fi. It also offers an express check-in and check-out feature, a coffee bar and on-site parking. Lake Hawea provides a golf course, bicycle rental and laundry facilities.

Mt Maude Country Lodge | Best Hotel in Lake Hawea

Mt Maude Country Lodge offers 3.5-star facilities in addition to free Wi-Fi. It also features a garden. Every room at the bed & breakfast has ironing facilities and all the necessities for a comfortable stay. They are also equipped with a shower and a hairdryer.

Things to See and Do in Lake Hawea

  1. Get out onto the lake. You’ll have fewer competitors than over on Lake Wanaka.
  2. Walk the waterfront, enjoying the serenity of the area.
  3. Take a scenic drive along the lakeside and compare views of each of the neighboring lakes.
  4. Head along the Timaru River Road walk and take in the wild natural beauty of the area.
  5. Have dinner at Sailz Lake Hawea Store. It’s a restaurant, bar, cafe, general store and post office. Busy!

5. Albert Town – Best Neighborhood in Wanaka for Families

For the families, too, we’ve nudged you a little way from the main township. It’s for your own good, we promise!

Albert Town sits on a bend in the outlet channel from Lake Wanaka, where the water splits into two rivers.

It’s a short distance from the middle of Wanaka town (we’re talking about 3 miles), which means it’s not as crowded with the snowboard set or the backpacker bunch.

Albert Town is a mix of family-friendly and adventure, and so is our pick for the best area to stay in Wanaka with kids.

Albert Town, Wanaka

On that short road between the areas is Puzzling World, an amusement centre with all sorts of kid-focused fun that parents will also enjoy, like a maze and optical illusion rooms.

And you’re close to the Sticky Forest Mountain Bike trails, where there are levels for all, so the littlies can take the lead in case mum or dad isn’t too confident yet!

There’s great access to a number of walking and biking tracks from here, with the Upper Clutha and Newcastle tracks both having a start point nearby.

The Hook Wanaka is a fun day out too, where you can catch a salmon from their fishing lakes, before having it cooked up for the family dinner.

Spacious and Modern Designed Cottage | Best Airbnb in Albert Town

Situated near Eely Point and Bremner Bay, this spacious and mid century designed house comes with a large garden where the kids can play. All the ammenities are modern and it also comes with a BBQ to enjoy the evening outside in the garden overlooking stunning views. Only a 5 minutes drive to town and to the lake, it is the perfect place to stay in Wanaka with a family.

Zula Lodge | Best Hostel in Albert Town

Zula Lodge offers a comfortable setting when in Wanaka. It also provides a terrace, luggage storage and ski lockers. Zula Lodge has 8 comfortable rooms that are ideal for travellers on a budget. Guests staying in the rooms also have access to a communal bathroom.

Riverview Terrace | Best Hotel in Albert Town

Featuring an outdoor pool, Riverview Terrace is located in Wanaka and provides luxury accommodation. Those staying at the property can also make use of complimentary wireless internet. Guests of this 5-star bed & breakfast can book excursions with the assistance of the tour desk.

Wanaka Alpine Lodge | Best Hotel in Albert Town

Wanaka Alpine Lodge offers 4-star accommodation as well as free Wi-Fi, a Jacuzzi and a free shuttle service. After a day of exploring the area, guests can relax in the comfort of their air conditioned rooms. A flat-screen TV, heating and slippers are also available to guests.

Things to See and Do in Albert Town

  1. Go downhill wheels first at Stick Forest Mountain Bike.
  2. Mess with your mind at Puzzling World.
  3. Catch dinner at The Hook Wanaka.
  4. Find a walking trail that suits your family’s ages and head out for a few hours.
  5. Fuel up at Double Black Cafe.
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FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Wanaka

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Wanaka and where to stay.

What To Pack For Wanaka

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

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Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Wanaka

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Wanaka

Wanaka is a small gem of a town, with an absolute wealth of adventures on offer. Its different areas all offer access to the same activities, with just a touch of variety in the style of living in each spot.

Spending a few nights at our best overall hotel Wanaka Homestead Lodge & Cottages will see you surrounded with all that Wanaka has to offer, and right by the Rippon vineyard too!

You couldn’t get bored here if you tried, as long as you’re willing to get moving, get out of the hotel, and get amongst the great outdoors!

Why not explore even further, and see what you can find beyond those ranges? Wanaka will be there waiting as your friendly Kiwi base, when you return.

So that’s it from us, and those are our very best tips and tricks on what to do and where to stay in Wanaka! Now go and get yourself a pic in front of that tree!

Looking for more info on travelling to Wanaka and New Zealand?