70km northwest of Queenstown is the quietly beautiful Lake Wanaka, set in a magnificent landscape of gentle mountains. It is 45km long, with an area of 193 sq.km. The Clutha River, the mightiest on the South Island, flows out of the southeast corner of the lake.From Queenstown there are two routes to Lake Wanaka, the shorter being Cardrona Road (SR 89) which requires some driving expertise. It branches off Highway 6 at Arrow Junction and after traversing the pass follows the Cardrona River where the beautiful surroundings are reward for the strenuous drive.The easier alternative is the 50km Highway 6 via Cromwell which passes through the broad Clutha River valley on its way to Wanaka village.
From Lake Wanaka, in good weather, there are magnificent panoramas, with the peaks in Mount Aspiring National Park visible in the distance. The country round the lake is particularly beautiful in autumn, when the many deciduous trees brought here from Europe take on their russet coloring. The finest view of the lake is from Glendhu Bay, 14km west of Wanaka village.
Wanaka, New Zealand
15km north of Wanaka village is Lake Hawea, the smallest of the three alpine lakes in the Otago region (30 km, area 140 sq.km). Highway 6 runs along the west side of the lake on its way to the Haast Pass. The village of Lake Havea, at the south end of the lake, occupies the site of a Maori village that was attacked and destroyed in 1836.The damming of the lake under the Clutha River hydroelectric scheme in 1958 raised the water level by around 20m. The water stored in the lake serves as a reserve supply in winter, when the catchment area of the Clutha River is blocked by ice.The lake, which offers good trout and salmon fishing, is 410m deep, so that its bed is 64m below sea level.
More Lake Wanaka Pictures