The winter weather in Wanaka might be cold, but the days are clear and sunny. If you need a break from skiing or snowboarding and are looking for another outdoor activity in the area that’s not That Wanaka Tree, then check out one of the many walking or biking tracks. Here, we share our favourites – all within minutes of Hook so why not think about ditching the car for the day and making the most of the all of the fun things to do outdoors in Wanaka. Times indicated are for walking.
Mt Iron. 1 ½ hour loop. 4.5 km. Walking track only. Our favourite because you don’t have to slog for hours to get to the top for a stunning 360 degree view of the area including Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, but it’s still hard enough to make you feel like you’ve earned an extra portion of hand-cut chips to go with your hot smoked salmon. Look down to the east from the top and you can see the Hook lakes!
The Outlet Track. 1 hour one way, 3km. Walking and biking track. A lovely riverside walk or ride for the whole family. The scenery changes dramatically with the seasons so it never gets boring and is beautiful summer through winter. There are some good trout fishing spots along the track but always remember to check the rules – and make sure you have a fishing licence (although not required if you’re fishing at Hook!)
Upper Clutha River Track. 4 -5 hours, one way. 16km. Walking and biking track. From the Kinnibeg Street carpark in Albert Town, the track heads to Pawsons Crossing – where a new track being built by The Upper Clutha Tracks Trusts lets you walk or ride straight to Hook! To join the Upper Clutha River Track, head over the bridge at Pawsons Crossing. If you don’t feel like going all the way to Luggate, the first bench at the top of the rise gives stunning views down over the river. Then head back down and make you way directly to Hook for a bite to eat.
Newcastle Track. 2 – 3 hours, one way. 12km. Walking and biking track. Following the other side of the river from the Upper Clutha River Track, this is a lovely winter activity as the track is fairly flat and biking it is a great family activity with older kids.
Hawea River Track. 3 – 4 hours one way. 14km. Walking and biking track. This is the track that a couple of the Hook team bike to work on everyday! How lucky are we?! Personally, my absolute ideal outdoor activity day would be to ride this track from Hawea to Hook, stop for relaxed fishing and lunch, and ride back again. Just as good would be to start at Hook, catch a salmon and have it smoked for takeaway lunch, ride to Lake Hawea, picnic overlooking the lake and ride back to Hook for a post-ride drink.
Deans Bank. 1 ½ – 2 hours, loop. 11.5 km. Walking and biking track. Suitable for walking but it’s safe bet that when someone mentions Deans Bank they mean mountain biking! This is the go-to ride in the Lake Wanaka area. Appealing to intermediate riders and fearless youth, this is a sure-fire way to work up an appetite! The start of the track is at the Albert Town campground just minutes ride from Hook.
Hikuwai Loop. 1 – 2 hours, loop. 9km. Walking and biking track. You could walk it but with so many great walking tracks in Wanaka, save this one for the bike! It’s a great way to link Hook up with Sticky Forest for a full day adventure – Wanaka style! And right next to the loop is the Newcastle Bike Park – a children’s bike park perfect for family fun.
Sticky Forest. How long have you got?! How far do you want it to be? Biking tracks. Where to start? A totally epic network of single track trails through the forest – cool in summer, sheltered in winter. The perfect outdoor activity all year round with over 20 tracks to choose from all the way up to advanced levels. If you like mountain biking and you’re in Wanaka – just do it! And then call in to Hook and tell us all about it over an ice-cold beer: the perfect day out in Lake Wanaka.