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Wanaka is a lakeside town near the middle of the island, on the north-south west coast route. The closest bigger town is Queenstown.

State highway 6 goes from Invercargill, through Queenstown, past Arrowtown, Cadrona, Wanaka, Fox Glacier, Franz Joseph, Hokitika, Greymouth, Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks) Nelson, and nearly to Picton. It is the gateway to the Southern Alps’ Mount Aspiring National Park, a wilderness of glaciers, beech forests and alpine lakes. Treble Cone and Cardrona ski resorts are near the park.