Wanaka was our favorite city on the South Island (though we didn’t make it to Dunedin, which I’ve heard great things about) because it felt like Boulder with its great outdoor scene mixed with a similarly fantastic gluten free food and drink scene.
After the trip, I was talking about which city I would be most likely to move to, and the answer came to me within four seconds.
It seems like A LOT of people share that sentiment, as everywhere we looked we saw new housing developments and brand new modern homes popping up. Still, Wanaka manages to still feel like a small town despite a recent surge in popularity.
Here are some tips on the best gluten free restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, and things to do in and around Wanaka.
Heading to New Zealand? Here are some other posts you might like:
- A Crazy Detailed 2 Week New Zealand South Island Itinerary
- The Ultimate Celiac-Safe Guide to Queenstown
- Gluten Free New Zealand: A Celiac’s Travel Guide
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, I would never recommend something to you that I don’t stand behind 100%.
Gluten Free Eats in Wanaka That Are Safe if You Have Celiac Disease
Here are five places to check out for gluten free eats in Wanaka for those of us with celiac disease.
Gluten Free Fish and Chips at Erik’s Fish and Chips
Erik’s Fish and Chips is a 100% gluten free (minus the malt vinegar, which is clearly labeled “contains gluten” and they have apple cider vinegar as a gluten free alternative) fish and chips and other fried goodies. They are even accredited by the CoeliacNZ Dining Out program!
When I walked up, I didn’t actually know that it was 100% gluten free. I asked about a dedicated fryer, and the staff assured me that yes, my fish and chips would be gluten free and suitable for coeliacs.
They have fantastic fries. The fish was good to, but I devoured an entire serving of fries myself. So good. Fish-wise, get the blue cod.
They have a location in Queenstown too, if you’re headed that way.
Quick Service and Freshly Cooked Gluten Free Eats at Big Fig
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, doesn’t matter, Big Fig has you covered.
Basically, you choose one meat (like slow roasted beef cheeks or rotisserie chicken) and a variety of accompaniments (from roasted potatoes or stuffed tomatoes, to a range of salads).
It’s all clearly labeled gluten free, and the staff is very knowledgable. When I was there, all of the meats were gluten free, and the only gluten-containing item was a couscous salad.
They also do a great gluten free breakfast, which usually featured gluten free pancakes, frittatas, smoothies, etc.
They also have a location in Queenstown. All in, we visited four times on our trip. SO GOOD.
The Best Indian Restaurant on the South Island of New Zealand – The Spice Room
The Spice Room was easily the best Indian food of the trip.
Indian food is one of my go-to cuisines when I’m traveling. It’s usually easy to find. Curries are almost always gluten free (and if they’re not, you don’t want to eat there anyway). Last but certainly not least, Indian food is delicious.
The Spice Room was among the best Indian food I’ve had in a while. We shared the Mango Chicken and Chicken Korma, and basically ended up licking our plates. The Mango Chicken was particularly good.
They have creamy, rich curries that are gluten free (except one, which has fritters in it), the service was great, and they understand celiac disease.
They also have a location in Queenstown.
Dedicated Gluten Free Kitchen at Soul Food Organic
Soul Food has a dedicated gluten free kitchen in Wanaka with rotating offerings – great for a gluten free breakfast or lunch. We had muffins, chickpea flatbread, and a delicious veggie quesadilla.
It’s also a grocery store with hard-to-find gluten free groceries.
Like Erik’s above, they have a location in Queenstown as well.
Celiac-friendly Gluten Free Pub Food at Speight’s Ale House
Despite being a brewery, they actually do gluten free well. I would avoid their cider though, just to be safe.
They have a clearly marked menu, with options that are gluten free or can be modified to be gluten free. No dedicated fryer though, so avoid anything fries, including the fries.
The downside? The choices are really limited.
Where to Buy Gluten Free Groceries in Wanaka
There are two grocery stores worth stopping at in Wanaka. The first is New World, which had the best selection of any New World we stopped at (aside from MAYBE the one in Queenstown). They even had Peckham’s Cider, which was not the case everywhere. Right around the corner is Pembroke Wine and Spirits, who have a helpful staff and great selection of New Zealand wines and ciders. Worth a stop if you’re looking for something to drink at home.
Check out my list of the best gluten free groceries in NZ.
The other place worth stopping is the aforementioned Soul Food, who has a great higher-end grocery section full of gluten free goodies. Like this chocolate.
The Best Coffee in Wanaka
In every new city we go to, I go on a quest to find the best coffee. Wanaka was no different.
In general, the coffee in New Zealand was somewhere between Europe on the low end, and Australia on the high end. In smaller towns, good coffee was hard to find. In Wanaka, good coffee was all around us.
There were three coffee shops we went to in Wanaka that impressed me – all are in the center and are relatively close together. Kiwi coffee culture is all about the coffee + milk combo, unlike the US where you find a lot of filter (or black) coffee. I don’t think I saw filter coffee once in our three weeks in New Zealand. Not even in Wanaka, which had the best coffee scene of the trip.
If you’re looking for something close to the coffee you’d find in the US, grab an Americano or a Long Black. Otherwise, when in New Zealand, do as the Kiwis do and grab a flat white!
- The Coffee Shack: Great coffee in a cute little hut in the city center. They have a handy guide to espresso drinks on the wall in case you were wondering what the difference between a flat white and a cappuccino is.
- Urban Grind: Right next door to Soul Food in an open, airy space with lots of brick and wood vibes. Nice space, good coffee, and they have a bar upstairs.
- The Good Spot: Off the main drag by a few blocks, but worth the journey. Good vibes all around at this little coffee trailer. I’m a sucker for coffee out of a vehicle. Good vibes and good coffee – perfect to grab some of the best coffee in Wanaka on a sunny summer morning.
Where to Stay in Wanaka
This Airbnb also looks AMAZING. Again, a bit of a drive outside of Wanaka, but secluded, private, and beautiful.
Prefer hotels? The Wanaka Springs Lodge is going to be your best bet.
What to Do in Wanaka
There’s so much to do in Wanaka for everyone – whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, or you just want to chill out.
Here are some ideas based on what we did (or wish we did) while we were there.
Hiking around Lake Wanaka: Roy’s Peak (do it for the ‘gram), Isthmus Peak (the hardest hike I’ve done in a while, but the views were amazing and it feels like you’re hiking through Lord of the Rings), or the Rob Roy Glacier track in Mt. Aspiring National Park.
Wine Tasting with a View: Rippon Vineyard was one of the best views from a winery I’ve seen. It sits up on a ridge, surrounded by vines and overlooking the beautiful Lake Wanaka. They make mostly Pinot Noir, alongside some interesting white wines.
Want to do a more in-depth wine tasting tour of the Otago Valley, one of New Zealand’s primary wine regions? Take a wine tasting tour.
Wanaka Lavender Farm: Lush gardens, farm animals, delicious honey, and afternoon tea. We spent some time here on a beautiful morning, and Alysha loved it. Worth the short drive just out of town.
Planning a trip to New Zealand? Start here!
Looking for a similar guide to Queenstown? I’ve got you covered.