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New Zealand Backpacking – Wanaka

Next up on our tour of the beautiful South Island was Wanaka. We had an early start from Queenstown and a longer journey heading North up the West side of the island, so we didn’t arrive in Wanaka until the afternoon.

So we quickly found our hostel. We were staying at the Flying Kiwi Backpackers (great name) which was a really sweet and quiet place, slightly away from the main town.

wanaka new zealand

That Wanaka Tree

And then first things first – we made for ‘That Wanaka Tree.’

This lovely little tree, is supposedly the most photographed in New Zealand, and became pretty famous on Instagram. It now even sports its own hashtag! #thatwanakatree

People flock to this sweet little willow tree – which is reported to have started by growing out of a fence post around 80 years ago. The tree is renowned for its small stature and odd curvature, but is oddly beautiful and very photogenic.

When we visited there were quite a few people gathered around taking photos of the famous tree. While we were there one person annoyingly waded through the water and stood among the branches for a photo. Which I thought was pretty disrespectful, in that it ruined everyone elses opportunity to take photos, and also made the branches flail and wobble quite wildly. I was worried he was going to break the tree to be honest!

But it was still a pretty little experience, and I’m glad I got to have a look at it.

wanaka new zealand

wanaka new zealand
Obligatory selfie at Wanaka’s ‘That Wanaka Tree’

The Town

While we were in Wanaka we ate out both nights. It wasn’t our intention to, but on our first night we discovered Red Star Burger Bar – and oh my heavens it was the most delicious burger I’d ever had. So naturally we went back again the second night as well. It wold be my top food recommendation, so so good!

The town of Wanaka itself was quite quiet. During summer season it becomes a hub for holiday makers and in the winter it then becomes a home of Winter Sports. For the adventure seeker Wanaka would be a haven. As they cater for all sorts of activities including, walking, skiing, kayaking, climbing and canyoning, 4×4’s, jet boating and all sorts of other things. I would have loved to try something a bit adventurous, but unfortunately we were on a really tight budget.

Mt Iron

wanaka new zealandThe following day we decided to do a mini hike – so we opted to climb the nearby Mt Iron. I’m not sure if its real mountain – its described as a rocky knoll, and has a looped track going up and around it, that took us a few hours to do. The initial climb is steep, and we were walking it on quite a warm day. So we took it easy, and were unhurried. (I was also in the midst of my Pokemon Go obsessions, so there were a lot of pauses!)

From the top of Mt Iron we saw great views of the Lake and town, and in the distance, the Southern Alps, which were lovely.

On the way back from the walk we came across this fabulous sign:

wanaka new zealand

Yes that’s my name, but no that’s not my face. Obviously a lady in Wanaka with a fabulous name, was standing for election. She gets my vote!

Before we headed off from Wanaka, on our last morning we tried a little cafe close to the waters edge. And we finally got to try the classic South Island ‘cheese rolls’ which we’d heard so much about. (Literally a cheese sauce/mix poured onto bread and then rolled up.) They were pretty cheap and cheerful, but actually not bad.

After a fairly chilled out few days, we headed back down to the bus stop near the lake’s edge, and hopped onto out bus, that was going to take us further North. Next stops were taking us up to the glaciers: Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier!

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New Zealand Backpacking – Wanaka


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