Deedee Behr

Deedee Behr

Published: 10 Sep 2023


Lake Wanaka, nestled in the heart of New Zealand’s South Island, is a truly remarkable destination that captivates the imagination of all who visit. With its crystal-clear waters, stunning mountain backdrop, and diverse range of activities, this picturesque lake has become a favorite among locals and tourists alike.But Lake Wanaka is much more than just a scenic wonder. It holds a wealth of extraordinary facts and fascinating stories that make it truly unique. From its ancient origins and geological wonders to its rich Maori history and breathtaking wildlife, there is so much to discover about this enchanting location.In this article, we will delve into 16 extraordinary facts about Lake Wanaka that will leave you in awe of its beauty and significance. Whether you’re planning a trip to New Zealand or simply want to expand your knowledge, join us as we uncover the wonders of Lake Wanaka!

Table of Contents

Pristine Beauty

Lake Wanaka, located on New Zealand’s South Island, is renowned for its pristine natural beauty. With its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking mountain backdrop, it is a haven for photographers and nature lovers.

Maori Name

The Maori name for Lake Wanaka is “Oanaka,” which means “the place of Anaka,” a Maori chief who was believed to have lived in the area centuries ago.

Glacial Origin

Lake Wanaka is a glacial lake formed during the last ice age. It was carved out by the movement of glaciers over thousands of years, leaving behind a spectacular landscape.

Size and Depth

Lake Wanaka covers an impressive surface area of approximately 192 square kilometers (74 square miles) and reaches a maximum depth of 309 meters (1,014 feet). It is New Zealand’s fourth-largest lake.

Te Wahipounamu

Lake Wanaka is part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area, which includes four other national parks. This designation recognizes the region’s outstanding natural and cultural significance.

Scenic Surroundings

The lake is surrounded by majestic mountains, including the Southern Alps and the famous Mount Aspiring, providing a stunning backdrop for outdoor activities and exploration.

Adventure Hub

Lake Wanaka is a popular destination for thrill-seekers. It offers a wide range of adventure activities, including kayaking, jet boating, skydiving, and mountain biking.

Puzzling Stones

One of the unique attractions of Lake Wanaka is the “Puzzling World,” a famous maze and illusion center. It features a giant maze, a tilted house, optical illusions, and mind-bending puzzles.

Islands and Beaches

The lake is dotted with beautiful islands and picturesque beaches, making it an ideal spot for picnics, sunbathing, and water activities.

Wanaka Tree

The famous “Wanaka Tree,” also known as the “Lonely Tree,” stands alone in Lake Wanaka. It has become an iconic symbol and a popular photography subject.

Wine Region

Lake Wanaka is located in the renowned Central Otago wine region, known for producing exceptional Pinot Noir. Visitors can enjoy wine tours and tastings in nearby vineyards.

Native Wildlife

The lake and its surrounding areas are home to a diverse range of native wildlife. From majestic birds like the takahe and kaka to elusive creatures like the New Zealand longfin eel, nature enthusiasts will be captivated.

Maori Legends

The lake holds a special place in Maori mythology. It is said to be the tears of a young Maori woman named Waiapu, who wept for her lost love.

Film Locations

Lake Wanaka has served as a backdrop for several famous films, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Its enchanting scenery has attracted filmmakers from around the world.

Camping and Hiking

The lake’s surrounding areas offer numerous camping and hiking opportunities. From leisurely lakeside walks to challenging multi-day treks, there is a trail for every level of adventurer.

Autumn Wonderland

During autumn, Lake Wanaka transforms into a magical wonderland as the surrounding trees and vineyards change into vibrant hues of red, orange, and gold. It is a photographer’s dream come true.


In conclusion, Lake Wanaka is truly an extraordinary destination that captivates visitors with its sheer beauty, diverse wildlife, and fascinating history. From the mystical Maori legends surrounding its creation to the stunning landscapes that have served as backdrops for countless movies, this lake is a must-visit for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. Whether you want to embark on thrilling outdoor activities, relax in tranquil surroundings, or marvel at the breathtaking scenery, Lake Wanaka has something for everyone. So pack your bags, immerse yourself in the wonders of Lake Wanaka, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Q: Is Lake Wanaka suitable for swimming?
A: Yes, Lake Wanaka is suitable for swimming. The water is clean and refreshing, making it an ideal spot to take a dip during the warmer months. However, it is advisable to swim in designated areas and be aware of the weather conditions and currents.Q: Can I go fishing in Lake Wanaka?
A: Absolutely! Fishing is a popular activity in Lake Wanaka. The lake is home to various fish species, including trout and salmon. You can hire equipment, join a fishing charter, or simply cast your line from the shore for a chance to catch some delicious freshwater fish.Q: Are there hiking trails around Lake Wanaka?
A: Yes, there are numerous hiking trails around Lake Wanaka, catering to different fitness levels and preferences. From easy walks along the lakeshore to challenging mountain hikes, there is something for every adventurer. Make sure to check local regulations, carry appropriate gear, and be mindful of weather conditions.Q: Can I camp near Lake Wanaka?
A: Yes, camping is allowed in designated areas near Lake Wanaka. There are several campgrounds and holiday parks offering a range of facilities and amenities. Alternatively, you can also explore freedom camping options, but make sure to follow the guidelines and leave no trace.Q: When is the best time to visit Lake Wanaka?
A: The best time to visit Lake Wanaka depends on your preferences. The summer months (December to February) offer warm weather and are perfect for water activities and outdoor adventures. Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) bring milder temperatures and stunning foliage colors. Winter (June to August) is ideal for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.Q: Are there any events or festivals held near Lake Wanaka?
A: Yes, Lake Wanaka hosts a range of events and festivals throughout the year. The most notable one is the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow, which takes place biennially and showcases aerial displays and vintage aircraft. Other events include the Festival of Colour, the Wanaka A&P Show, and various sports competitions.