I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – Wanaka is my favourite place in New Zealand. More than just the jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, the snow-capped mountains and picture-perfect lake, Wanaka has a unique and welcoming vibe that always melts away my worries. As soon as we drive into Wanaka it’s as though the rest of the world disappears and we’re back in this beautiful place, surrounded by friendly locals and a relaxed atmosphere that immediately puts you at ease. We’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few times and stay in a few different places but this time we got the chance to stay right on the Lake, treated to unbeatable views and the ideal location! Here’s a look at The Moorings and a little insight into why it may just be the perfect accommodation option for your visit to Wanaka.
Where the heck is it?
You’ll find The Moorings perfectly located along stunning Lake Wanaka, offering picture-perfect views of the Lake with the gorgeous mountains in the background. Standing on the balcony of our studio unit or just hanging out inside we were able to see the Lake and the mountains at all times, which really made us feel like we were making the most of our time in Wanaka and not missing out on anything even when we were indoors. Its lakeside location also means it’s really easy to head out for a stroll along the water’s edge and, if you feel like company, you can always take resident hound, Kiera, for a walk with you. Another big benefit of its location is The Moorings is nice and close to New World, the local supermarket, as well as plenty of great eateries, cafes and bars.
How do I get there?
Each time we’ve visited Wanaka we’ve found it most affordable for us to fly into Christchurch, hire a car and road trip down. The drive is pretty easy, taking a little over 5 hours to do. If your flight arrives in the morning it’s definitely possible to do the whole drive in one day, breaking it up with rest stops as you go. That said, there’s no need for you to rush things and do it all at once if you don’t want to. We broke our drive up by spending two nights at Lake Tekapo, which was lovely! If you find yourself flying into Queenstown, the drive to Wanaka is really quick, only taking an hour to get there – just be sure to schedule in a little time to stop in at the Cardrona Hotel for a Cardrona Ale and, if you’re hungry, lunch. If you’re visiting in winter, make sure you check the road closures, carry snow chains if needed and watch a video on how to fit snow chains.
What are the rooms like?
When I read the words ‘Studio Unit” I expected the room to be quite small and compact. Turns out, the room was the absolute perfect size, affording us plenty of space to spread out and get comfortable while still offering everything we could possibly need to have a great stay. Travelling as a small group, it was fantastic having the two studio units next to each other – it meant we had our own rooms to retreat to, giving us our own space, but kept us close to each other so we could visit each other’s rooms, make plans and meet up easily.
Our studio units offered million-dollar views of the Lake with the snow-capped mountains behind, with the little balcony offering up the perfect location to sit in the crisp winter air, clutching a cup of coffee, soaking it all in. Just inside the large doors, a seating area with a lounge and coffee table adjacent to a desk and chair. I really liked having this separate area as it gave us space to sit and relax without always being confined to the bed, though the tv could easily be moved around so we could watch a movie in bed if we wanted to.
The bed was really comfortable and cosy, complete with electric blankets for those chilly winter evenings. We had no trouble getting to sleep each night as the bed was super comfy and the motel is lovely and quiet. Another feature I loved was the little kitchenette, decked out with all the basics and essentials needed to prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner. I loved having the kitchenette as there were a couple of times I just couldn’t be bothered to go out for food so I could whip up a snack or meal easily and eat in the room without there being any clutter or fuss! I especially loved the coffee plunger and ground coffee supplied, it was so nice to have a decent cup of coffee with breakfast before heading up to the ski fields.
The bathroom is also really well-sized, complete with under-floor heating (so important!). Overall I just loved our stay at The Moorings, the accommodation was so seamlessly easy, offering us everything we needed and nothing we didn’t! The wifi was fantastic, the room was comfortable and practical but also still special, if you know what I mean, and the on-site laundry was perfect for getting our ski gear clean and dry. Our stay was fantastic and we found ourselves wishing we had even more time at The Moorings and in Wanaka.
For anyone travelling as part of a small group, I’d definitely recommend getting a couple of studio units and if you’re travelling as a family or larger group you might want to look into their two and three bedroom apartment options. For anyone travelling solo or as a couple the studio units are absolutely perfect!
But, what is there to do?
Need some inspiration on what to see and do while you’re in Wanaka? Here are a few tips…
- We visited as part of a ski holiday to New Zealand’s South Island and had the BEST time! I cannot recommend visiting the two fields closest to Wanaka quite highly enough, those are Cardrona and Treble Cone (you can read more about them in my massive guide to skiing New Zealand’s South Island)
- Take a ride in a vintage tiger moth with Classic Flights
- Or climb aboard a helicopter, take a scenic flight and land atop a glacier with Aspiring Helicopters
- Have an Instagram moment at That Wanaka Tree
- Go cross-country skiing at NZ Snow Farm
- Make the hike up to Roys Peak and capture your very own Instagram-worthy snaps
- Join a guided winery tour (takes the guesswork out of staying under the legal limit!)
- See a movie at Cinema Paradiso where you curl up on couches and stop for intermission (and freshly baked cookies!)
- Read all of my 31 of the BEST things to in Wanaka here….
Talk me through the food situation…
I loved having the kitchenette in our room, especially as we were skiing most days and didn’t have time to go out for breakfast or dinner all the time. We took a trip to New World, the local supermarket, and prepared a few of our meals in the room, which helps to keep costs down and also just makes things easier sometimes. If you’re keen to explore Wanaka’s food scene, here are my picks on where to find great food in Wanaka…
- I cannot recommend a visit to Rhyme and Reason enough, this great local brewery offers a truly unique tour as well as the chance to sample really, really good beers. Best of all, you can BYO food or call and order in to the brewery… it’s pretty much the best place on earth.
- Be sure to eat at Red Star at least once, their burgers are divine
- Grab breakfast at Relishes Cafe where the coffee is amazing and the food delish!
- Go for lunch and cold beers at the Cardrona Hotel
- Settle in for an Italian feast at Francesca’s Kitchen
- Get stuck into a great pizza at The Cow
- Take yourself on a DIY food tour of the town’s local food trucks.
Both Matt and I absolutely LOVED our stay at The Moorings and would whole-heartedly recommend it as a great place to stay for anyone visiting the area. There was just so much to love about it – the rooms were incredibly well looked after, decked out with everything we needed to have a really enjoyable stay and offered million-dollar views of the Lake. Most importantly, the owners are just the loveliest people, making us all feel really welcome, at home and at ease. I especially loved seeing their gorgeous dog, Kiera, each day and thinks it’s so lovely they let visitors take her out for walks with them.
I think The Moorings is the perfect accommodation option for pretty much everyone – whether it’s your first time in Wanaka or you’re visiting again, whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple, small group or large group, it’s a great base. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay because it was just so comfortable, it wasn’t over-the-top pretentious, it was just lovely accommodation in a beautiful part of Wanaka with wonderful hosts – everything about it was genuinely enjoyable and made us feel really at ease. We honestly didn’t want to leave!
Watch our Skiing the South Island video!
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.