When he’s not travelling the globe, Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon is based in Wanaka.

What's the best thing about Wanaka?

It's like a world of its own - peaceful, mountains, lakes and no shortage of activities.

Why is it a great destination for Kiwi holidaymakers?
It showcases the best of New Zealand all in one place: It's not over-crowded, there's friendly South Island hospitality and it's a great winter and summer destination.

Is summer still a good time to come? If so, why?
Summer is the best time. Several lakes in the area give you the freedom for water sports and the hundreds of bike and walk trails are a great way to enjoy the outdoors (not to mention the many adrenalin activities).

Advertisement

What's the first thing we should do when we arrive?
Head down to the lakefront with a picnic, and take in the views. It doesn't get any better.

Any good tips on where to stay?
In the summer there would be nothing better than pitching a tent. Otherwise there are plenty of hotels and backpackers around.

Where's the best place to get a coffee?
The Urban Grind cafe is a town favourite with good food and drinks.

And a great place for brunch?
To be honest, probably the same place or the Soul Food Organic cafe next door - some really good raw food there.

And where should we go for a quiet drink?
Alivate alongside the waterfront is a great way to reflect on the day and warm up for the night ahead.

Where can you get the best views?
Roys Peak is a mega hike - but at the top are simply breathtaking views of the region. It takes a couple of hours, or a shorter hike is Mt Iron, which is about a 30-minute walk, where you get a bird's eye view of the town. During the winter, skiing at Treble Cone and the views from the top are some of the best in the world.

What are the most scenic day walks in the area?
Mt Iron is a popular one, but the track around the edge of the lake to Glendhu Bay would be a favourite.

Favourite place in the region to go for a drive?
Out through Cardrona Valley to Arrowtown is a favourite, otherwise a nice quiet drive around Lake Hawea.

Do you know of any good campgrounds/freedom camping around Wanaka?
There are a couple of main camping grounds near the town that are very popular, but also some other good spots around the river at Albert Town.

Where's your favourite swimming spot?
Anywhere in the lake - lots of places to choose from. But it's always good to get out on the boat and find your own private bay for the day.

Where's the best place to get some luxury?
Depends what you class as luxury, but for me out on the mountain-bike trails or being on the lake in the summer, or up on the ski slopes in the winter is what I would call luxury. Otherwise I'm sure there are plenty of places in the town where you could treat yourself.

What are the locals like?
Very welcoming and friendly. It's a country atmosphere where you get the impression that the locals know how lucky they are to live in one of the most amazing parts of the world - and they're happy to share it. It's almost a hidden gem.


Watch Hayden in action in Rally Australia, with daily highlight packages on Sky Sport until tomorrow. Plus, see the action as it happens with live stages direct from Coffs Harbour, today at 11.30am and 3pm.