Nestled just a 45-minute drive from Wanaka, Makarora is the ultimate of what you envision your New Zealand holiday to be. It’s the perfect destination for those seeking to immerse themselves in the unique beauty and rugged wilderness that the region has to offer.
Makarora beckons adventurers, families looking to venture off the beaten track, and travellers young and old, eager to truly experience and appreciate New Zealand’s pristine, untouched natural beauty. Perched on the edges of remote native bushland and the awe-inspiring World Heritage-listed Mount Aspiring National Park, Makarora serves as your gateway to an unfiltered New Zealand experience.
We’ve curated a list of our must-do activities & tips for planning your perfect trip to Makarora.
Where Adventure Meets Untouched Beauty
Savour the journey
Makarora, conveniently situated on the Haast Pass Highway, is a short 45-minute drive from Wānaka, Lake Hāwea, and the West Coast. Pull in at the Lake Hāwea lookout for stunning views of Lake Hawea and the majestic mountain ranges. Just 15 minutes further down the road, you’ll reach the top of Lake Wānaka, where countless photo opportunities await, showcasing the beauty of Mount Aspiring National Park as you enter the valley.
Makarora offers a wealth of options for outdoor enthusiasts, whether you’re an avid hiker seeking a challenging adventure, or a family looking for an achievable but rewarding hike with the kids. For the avid hikers, the Gillespie Pass, Siberia Valley, and Blue Valley trails await exploration. Families, on the other hand, have the opportunity to explore less demanding, family-friendly tracks such as the famous Blue Pools, Cameron Flat, or Davis Flat walks, each offering a uniquely breathtaking experience. The DOC website is the best place for planning your walking or hiking adventure.
Day walks & tramps
River adventures lie at the very core of your Makarora adventure, offering many unique and diverse options that promise to make your trip unforgettable. Whether you opt to jet boat with Wilkin River Jets amid the pristine expanse of the World Heritage-listed Mt. Aspiring National Park, try your hand at fishing along the shores of the Makarora River, or take a plunge into the crystal-clear Blue Pools, you’ll discover that the opportunities for river-based excitement are endless.
No visit to Makarora would be complete without exploring the natural wonders and breathtaking views from the air. Embark on a scenic helicopter flight with Backcountry Helicopters and discover age-old glaciers, waterfalls cascading over sheer cliffs, crystal blue alpine lakes and unforgettable views of the impressive Mount Aspiring/Tititea. Or combine an epic helicopter flight, a 3-hour wilderness hike, and an exhilarating jet boat experience through the Mount Aspiring National Park with Wilkin River Jets with the Heli Siberia Wilderness Adventure.
Food & Dining
Any good adventure needs great food and the local food and dining scene is an essential part of the Makarora experience. There are a couple of rural gems that will not only make your trip more memorable but also less stressful, with no need to worry about packing your lunch or dinner after a big day of adventures! The Makarora Country Cafe and Wonderland Lodge offer multiple options for amazing cuisine, epic coffee, and mouthwatering ice cream, all set in a unique wilderness backdrop right on the fringes of the Mount Aspiring National Park.
Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply someone in search of tranquility amid New Zealand’s unspoiled landscapes, Makarora is a destination that promises unforgettable memories. So, pack your gear, embark on your journey, and let Makarora be your gateway to a pristine, untouched wilderness like no other.