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Where Are the Best Beaches in Wānaka?

Where Are the Best Beaches in Wānaka?

Beaches aren’t the first things that come to mind when thinking about Wānaka, an inland mountain tourist town famous for hiking and skiing. Lake Wānaka dominates the area and features some stunning beaches, and nearby Lake Hāwea has good ones too. Looking for the best beaches in Wānaka? You’ve come to the right place!

Downtown Wānaka

Lake Wānaka sits just in front of the main part of town and the beach is a great place for a swim, a sit-down by the water or a stroll. You can grab a drink or something to eat and get a view of the water or get a burger or a pie and eat it at the beach. If you’re lucky you might see a nice sunset.

That Wānaka Tree

From downtown Wānaka you can walk (or ride your bike) for miles around the shores of Lake Wānaka. A good spot to seek out is the famous tree in the lake. It’s a nice section of beach and the tree looks great in photos — definitely a busy spot though!

READ MORE: Check out our three – seven day Wānaka itinerary!

That Wanaka Tree, New Zealand

That Wānaka Tree to Glendhu Bay

From there you’ll find lots of beach areas along the walking / cycling track heading towards Glendhu Bay. There are some good views on offer, especially in winter when there’s some snow on the mountains.

Glendhu Bay

Glendhu Bay has long been known as one of the best beaches in Wānaka, and it’s easily my favourite. The water is really clear (and cold I’m sure) and the views are awesome. There’s a big camping ground at Glendhu Bay but not really any other development — a good place to relax for a few hours with a picnic.

Glendhu Bay, one of the best beaches in Wanaka, New Zealand

The Other Side

If you’re in town and head in the opposite direction from That Wānaka Tree you’ll find a few quiet beaches. These beaches are nice enough but didn’t quite stand out compared to the ones mentioned earlier. There was meant to be a photo here but I lost them!

Mou Waho Island

There are a few islands in Lake Wānaka, with Mou Waho being the best to visit. It’s well-known for the short walking track to a viewpoint. The boat drops you off at a beautiful beach, definitely one of the top beaches in Wānaka. There are a few other islands to explore too — we’ll be doing that this summer.

READ MORE: 10 of the Best Walks in Wānaka

Lake Hāwea

Lake Hāwea is a short drive from Wanaka and is just as picturesque. There’s a walk (Gladstone Track) which takes you a few kilometres around the lake and you’ll see some great beach views along the way.

It’s kinda one big beach — you can see it at various points, and if you’re driving you can park in a few different areas. Kite Surfers Beach, Scotts Beach and John Creek are some good beach areas to check out.

READ MORE: 18 of the Best Things to Do in Wānaka

What Are the Beaches in Wānaka Like?

Lake beaches are often rough and rocky, and that’s true for the beaches in Wānaka. What you sacrifice in sand you receive in views though — the views from these beaches are stunning. If you’re looking for the best beach in Wānaka I’d go for Glendhu Bay and the beaches in Hāwea. Don’t stress too much if you don’t have time to visit these beaches though as the main beach in town is great as well.

Are you planning a trip to Wānaka? Check out our Wānaka travel guide for lots of tips!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.