Glendhu Bay: The Best Beach in Wanaka?

With Wanaka being over a hundred kilometers from the coast you wouldn’t expect it to be an awesome beach destination. Lake beaches have their charms too though, and Glendhu Bay is the perfect example of this. The surrounding scenery is beautiful, the water has that exotic clear blue look to it and the “sand” (or more accurately stones) makes for perfect strolling terrain. Is it the best beach in Wanaka? I have no idea, but if there’s a better one I’m yet to see it.

Glendhu Bay

Glendhu Bay is dominated by a large camping ground which is really popular over the New Zealand holiday season (mostly December and January). We’ve never stayed there but it’s definitely on our list for next summer. If you’re not staying at the camping ground it’s best to park up near the boat ramp further down the road. You can park close to the water and admire the views, and there are also several picnic tables spread along the front of the beach. It’s a great spot to unwind and eat lunch after a tough hike (which is most likely the reason you were visiting Wanaka in the first place).

READ MORE: The Ultimate Two-Week South Island New Zealand Itinerary

Glendhu Bay, Wanaka, New Zealand

Glendhu Bay is a long crescent shaped stretch of stony sand and you can walk along most of it. We also saw people swimming (in late March) and they didn’t seem cold. On a scorching midsummer day I reckon there’s nowhere else you’d rather be in this region. Glendhu Bay is also a popular launch point for boats. Maybe you can strike up a friendship with a boat owning local and they might take you out on the water. Common water activities include water skiing, fishing and trips out to Lake Wanaka’s islands.

Glendhu Bay, probably the best beach in Wanaka, New Zealand

Glendhu Bay from Above

You can see amazing views of the bay from both the Roys Peak Track and the Rocky Mountain Track. I highly recommend both of these hikes (as well as Isthmus Peak and Rob Roy Glacier).

READ MORE: 18 Fun Things to Do in Wanaka

View of Glendhu Bay from the Rocky Mountain Track, Wanaka, New Zealand

Glendhu Bay from the Rocky Mountain Track

View of Glendhu Bay from the Roys Peak Track, Wanaka, New Zealand

Glendhu Bay (lower left) from the Roys Peak Track

Other Beaches in Wanaka

The shores of Lake Wanaka feature some great lake beaches. We’ve been to a few of them but Glendhu Bay is the best we’ve seen. Another good stretch of beach can be found in front of #thatwanakatree, one of New Zealand’s most famous trees.

That Wanaka Tree, New Zealand

Getting There

Glendhu Bay is located around 12 km from downtown Wanaka. It’s just past the Roys Peak car park and just before the Diamond Lake / Rocky Mountain car park.

What is your favourite beach in Wanaka? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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