The alpine village of Wanaka sits on the shores of the third largest lake in the Queenstown Lakes District and is surrounded by the southern alps. Wanaka draws those seeking adventure, spectacular scenery and a relaxed atmosphere.
During winter the town's population more than triples as snow sports enthusiasts flock to the local ski fields of Treble Cone and Cardrona. Known as the gateway to the Mt Aspiring National Park, Wanaka is a walker's paradise of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys. For those seeking an adrenaline rush try skydiving, rock-climbing, jet boating or choose a scenic flight over Wanaka in a historic Tiger Moth airplane.
Lying close to the center of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. A unique glacial remnant of the last ice age, the island is also the historic site of early shipbuilding and used to be a stopping place for the steamers and log rafts that once plied the lake. Accessible from Wanaka by a 35 minute boat cruise, the landing is on the eastern side of the island where the remnants of early settlement remain; a stone wharf and a hut.
A well-formed track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native bush to near the top of Tyrwhitt Peak. Just before the top we see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with small islands in it - very intriguing! From the top we have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and below Arethusa Pool. The perfect spot to stop for a tea or coffee.
Going back down the track gives us more time to take in our surroundings, listening to and watching the lively bird-life, and just enjoying this unique wildlife reserve. You will feel well rewarded as you re-join the boat for the cruise back to Wanaka. Total cruise time is 1.5 hours. The trip runs subject to weather and lake conditions. Depending on the planting season, you can help The Reforestation of Mou Waho by planting a tree.
Puzzling World is a world unique attraction specialising in puzzling eccentricity. For over 35 years this remarkable business has entertained and amazed visitors of all ages. Offering the world's first "modern-styled" Great Maze, incredible Illusion Rooms, a Puzzle Centre/Cafe and eccentric architecture and oddities. Each remarkable illusion room is an illusion in its own right. On entering you pass through the Hologram Hall. As there is nothing quite like this in the world we can only assure you that you will find the collection of amazing 3-D holograms fascinating! Carry on into the Ames Forced Perspective Room. The technique of this illusion was used in The Lord of the Rings film to create tall people and little people. Move on into the Hall of Following Faces illusion room where 168 giant models of famous faces seem to turn and follow you around the room. This illusion room offers visitors a world unique encounter of being followed left and right, up and down by some very illustrious company. The newest room, the Sculptillusion Room is themed around an illusionary sculpture garden, the gallery invites visitors to wander around the various larger-than-life exhibits that showcase visual trickery at its best. Featuring over 20 large sculptures, artworks and displays the building itself offers illusionary aspects within its design. From Living Walls, wave ceilings, stone carpet and hanging waterfalls the visitor is met with stunning creations from some of NZ's finest artists. All of this is located in the heart of the breathtaking Southern Lakes region of the South Island of New Zealand, set amongst 7 acres of rolling lawns, trees and gardens.
Step back in time where to when pilots were larger than life, and heroes to all those who lifted their eyes skyward to the sound of an old tiger moth flying overhead. Take a scenic flight around Wanaka in a Vintage Aircraft and experience the excitement of the early flyers and their flying machines; the smell of oil and aviation fuel, combined with the aroma of fresh leather. As you don the old-style leather flying helmet, complete with flying goggles and silk scarf, experience the anticipation of being taken back in time to the nostalgia of this by-gone era. The exhilaration of the open cockpit and the wind in your face – discover the freedom and romance of a vintage scenic flight from Wanaka, one of the most spectacular scenic locations in New Zealand.
This 20 minute scenic flight takes you over the township of Wanaka, including Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea and surrounding areas. This flight takes in some of the most stunning scenery in the South Island with the backdrop of Mt Aspiring National Park and the Southern Alps.
Fly to Milford Sound through two of New Zealand's most picturesque national parks. View alpine lakes nestled amongst soaring snowcapped mountain peaks and pristine glaciers, with vast rainforest and cascading waterfalls visible from every seat!
Experience the jaw dropping scenery of Wanaka, its lakes and mountains as you freefall at 200kph. A tandem skydive with Skydive Lake Wanaka is the ultimate adrenalin rush in the ultimate location. Using the latest custom build plane and operating the best safety standards enjoy the 15-20 minute climb over the Wanaka scenery before exiting the plane securely strapped to a qualified and experienced skydiver.
The all season, all-encompassing Hook experience. Upon arrival at this unique venue, you will be kitted up with everything that you need to catch your lunch, from fishing rods to bait, nets and even life jackets for the little people. You will then make your way to the Lakes with one of the expert guides who will share their knowledge and help you catch a prize Chinook Salmon. Once you have ‘one in the net’ so to speak, you will bring the fish back to the filleting station where the team will work their magic to prepare your lunch while you enjoy the grounds & eatery.
A feast of hot smoked Salmon, salad & hand-cut chips, accompanied by all of the condiments will be served to your table in the eatery where you can enjoy views of the stunning lakes.
Adventure Wanaka offers skippered excursions on the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wanaka throughout the four seasons. Lake Wanaka is New Zealand’s fourth largest lake, spanning 45km in length and reaching depths of up to 300m. There are beaches, bays and bush clad islands just waiting to be explored.
Aboard a comfortable 6.5 metre launch for a three hour trip with guided island bushwalk up to the Arethusa Pool and native weka encounters.
Deep Canyon adventures are a journey unlike any other. Get in touch with a special natural world and see beauty such as you've only dreamed of. From the raw power of strong waterfalls to the tranquility of deep, forested pools, from sculptural rock-scapes to glowing green moss droplets, you will be immersed in a world you never knew existed.
This is a fantastic introduction to kayaking, with an easy guided paddle exploring the beautiful Lake Wanaka coastline and enjoying the outstanding scenery. You will be whisked away to a remote section of the beautiful Lake Wanaka where you will be fitted out with safety gear and given a kayaking skills lesson before you get out onto the water. No matter how fast you go, after about an hour your guide will find you an epic spot to take a rest and have some light refreshments.
Looping back to your start point (after exploring a few more hidden sweet-spots and taking a few more photos), you’ll leave the kayaks behind and cruise or drive back into town.
With a lifetime of fishing experience, your local guide, Davy, will take you fishing on Adventure Wanaka’s luxury launch. With your choice of fly, troll or spin, there is a uniquely New Zealand fishing experience waiting for you.
After the thrill of landing your catch, there is the option to have it filleted and cooked in front of you on the boat’s portable barbeque. A dash of lemon, salt and pepper – no fish tastes more delicious than one fresh out of the lake. Whether you are an absolute beginner or a seasoned expert, Adventure Wanaka will provide you with an exhilarating and beautifully scenic day of fishing.
Come and experience the thrill of horse trekking on beautiful Appaloosas in the stunning Cardrona Valley, near Wanaka. Your 2 hour trek takes you through this historic gold mining valley and high country farm plateaus with the towering mountains as your backdrop. Back in the late 1800s the area was home to thousands of gold miners and even now the ruins of their accommodation and mine workings abound. As Backcountry Saddles is a family operation children are well catered for. Debbie your guide will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all. The western saddles used offer comfort and security, especially for children or beginner riders. It is a saddle designed to be sat in for long periods of time. The horn on the front of the saddle (although built for an entirely different purpose) is great to either balance on or hold when the terrain gets challenging or you are moving into a faster pace. Backcountry Saddles supplies helmets and if required, wet weather gear.
The dual-mountain pass is the most flexible way to ski or snowboard in Wanaka. With this pass you have the freedom to choose from 850 hectares of NZ's best skiing and snowboarding terrain at Cardrona or Treble Cone.
Your adventure begins in Wanaka with a spectacular drive through the mountains to the base of the Twin Falls waterfall. You will learn safety skills and then climb the via ferrata alongside this spectacular waterfall. Along the way you will cross wire bridges, discover hidden pools to finish at a beautiful picnic spot with stunning views. You descend by trail before heading back to Wanaka. This round trip will take approximately 3 hours from Wanaka.
Cardrona is perfect for first timer skiers and boarders with easy learner lift and wide open beginner trails with beautiful views. Package includes rental of ski or snowboard equipment, learner's area ski lift pass, two group lessons with a professional instructor. Your 2 hour morning lesson teaches the basics, including how to master sliding, stopping and turning safely and effectively on gentle slopes. The 2 hour afternoon lesson is to further develop your skills and to support you as you explore more terrain.
If you have skied or snowboarded for more than one day and can 'stop and change direction', then this package is for you. You'll have access to the entire mountain with an all mountain lift pass, the benefit of a 2 hour group lesson and rental equipment. This package is coordinated to build a solid foundation so that you can make progress quickly. And rest assured you'll quickly remember the movements even if you only ever skied once, many years ago.
The Cardrona Hotel, one of New Zealand's oldest and most iconic hotels, sits between Queenstown and Wanaka on the stunning Crown Range Road. Nestled in a beautiful mountain valley, the town of Cardrona boasts a rich and vibrant history: settled in the 1860s as hundreds of hopeful prospectors flooded into the valley chasing gold, the Cardrona Hotel was one of four hotels quickly established to offer accommodation, food, livery services and a coaching-stop for miners and travellers. With the short-lived gold mining boom beginning to wind down in the late 1800s, the area quietened down, with the Cardrona Hotel eventually becoming the sole remaining hotel in the valley. In more recent times the township of Cardrona has seen a resurgence in visitors, people clamouring to get a taste of old the old town feel, stopping in for a pinta delicious meal and a few fantastic photo opportunities in the quaint village that harkens back to a time of hope, gold and good fortune.
The Cardrona Bike Park features a variety of lift-accessed downhill mountain bike trails for all levels of rider to enjoy. With some of the longest vertical descents in the country, come and explore this unique alpine playground. Lift passes for Cardrona Bike Park are a great way to get a taste for lapping the lifts - get up there and get on your bike!
Experience Cardrona's newest gravity-fueled adventure mountain carting! No prior experience is needed for this fun downhill activity, just a sense of adventure and a thirst for fun.The alpine specialized, German-made mountain cart is designed for performance, comfort and safety.
Two levels of mountain cart trails are on offer at Cardrona. The beginner/intermediate trail is accessed by McDougall's chairlift down the Skyline Ridge, a more advanced trail is accessed via Weston's Gap.
Meeting in Wanaka, you will be whisked away to Cardrona Alpine Resort to enjoy a 3-course dinner before your alpine stargazing tour.
Nestled in the heart of the Southern Alps, the Cardrona Valley offers some of the best conditions on Earth for stargazing. Not only does it have a dark sky with minimal light pollution, but it’s far enough south to have a great vantage point to view the famous Southern Sky. Your guide will talk about the night sky specific to our location in New Zealand - You’ll cover highlights of the Southern Sky, constellations, movements of planets, celestial navigation, and general information about what can be seen without the aid of a telescope before using the telescope to get a closer look at star clusters, nebulae and planets.
Let Go Jets take you on an exhilarating ride down the mighty Clutha River. Spectacular scenery, fast flowing waters, passing old gold mining sites. You will pass under the historic 'Red Bridge', camera stops and numerous 360 degree spins will be carried out during your trip. You will be taken through the long section called the 'snake' before reaching a rare switchback feature called the 'Devil's Nook'.
The mountains surrounding the world-renowned resort towns of Queenstown and Wanaka feature thrilling backcountry terrain and dramatic scenery. Enjoy an unforgettable day with 4 runs of heli-ski or heli-board bliss. Runs vary between 1500 to 2500 vertical feet of treeless skiing in sheltered basins, bowls and wide rolling mountain flanks with the opportunity to sample some of more advanced terrain.
Leaving from the Wanaka lakefront, take a gentle cruise around picturesque Lake Wanaka while relaxing with a glass of local wine or beer and a selection of cheeses. The cruise is fully licensed so further drinks can be purchased on board.
The cruise takes you toward the 'Wanaka Tree' before tracking up to Waterfall Creek and Ruby Island. You then head across to Stevensons Peninsula before returning via Beacon Point and Eely Point.
The Matukutuki Valley sits to the west of Wanaka, just around a 1 hour drive that skirts the lake passing through Glendhu Bay. Following the Matukituki River the road travels through lush farmland crossing river fords before you arrive at Raspberry Creek Hut. From here walking tracks to suit every ability and time frame are available. The river walk follows the course of the Matukituki along gentle rolling farmland. One of the more popular walks is the Rob Roy Glacier hike - a medium difficulty walk of around 4 hours return, through beech forest and alpine vegetation and spectacular views of the Rob Roy Glacier.
The Wanaka National Transport and Toy Museum is the result of one man’s dream and 50 years of collecting and preserving pieces from the past. The transport collection boasts rare and unusual aircraft, cars, trucks, motorcycles, fire appliances, military vehicles and tractors. A nostalgic selection of toys has something to fascinate the child in everyone, such as clockwork and battery powered toys, porcelain dolls, teddy bears, pedal cars and money boxes. The Museum offers indoor and outdoor playing areas with pedal tractors and trucks for the kids. The Museum shop also has thousands of models and gifts for sale.
For current opening hours and prices visit the National Transport and Toy Museum's website.
The Outlet Track is an easy walking track along the banks of the Clutha (Mata-Au) River. The track is suitable for walkers of all ages, and offers good scenic views along the way. You can see brown and rainbow trout swimming in the crystal clear water as you walk up the river.
In autumn many of the trees along the walk turn to a stunning gold and cover the track with a golden carpet. Impressive views can be taken of Mt Iron, the Southern Alps and in particular the permanent ice of the Fog Peak Glacier.
Your walk finishes at Lake Wanaka, with panoramic views of New Zealand’s fourth largest lake spilling the South Island’s second longest river and the largest river by volume in New Zealand.
Situated on 15 hectares of North facing escarpment along the shores of Lake Wanaka, Rippon Vineyard has been in the Mills family since 1913. With all of the Rippons wines being produced from their Lake Wanaka vineyard, this truly is a local wine tasting experience. Join the team for an intimate private wine tasting at the cellar door and sample the latest in Rippons fantastic selection.
Cross-country skiing is a great sport for all ages. It’s a fantastic way to experience the stunning New Zealand Alpine environment as you climb, descend and traverse the gentle rolling hills and peaceful valleys of the Pisa Range. Whether you want an easy stroll through the stunning mountain scenery or one of the best workouts around, cross-country skiing has something to offer you.
There are some excellent walks in and around Wanaka. The information below is provided by the Department of Conservation. Located in Wanaka is a Department of Conservation information centre and you can get updates on track conditions and suitability plus you can learn about the area, its natural history and its people. Listed below are a selection of short walks but check with the Department of Conservation information centre for weather conditions, track suitability and conditions first.
This is a local favourite as it is an easy walk suitable for all ages and abilities. It begins from Wanaka town centre and takes you around picturesque Lake Wanaka to the outlet to the Clutha River and on to Albert Town. This track can also be explored by bike.
Distance: 3 km one way. Completion Time: 1 hour one way.
Mount Iron Track
This very popular, close-to-Wanaka-town loop walk suits all ages and abilities and offers great views from the summit.
Distance: 4.5 km. Completion Time: 1.5 hour.
Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain walks
These two excellent walks in the Diamond Lake Conservation Area give wonderful views of the surrounding alps and Lake Wanaka.
Distance: 2km - 7 km depending on trail. Completion Time: 45 minutes - 3 hours depending on trail.
Rob Roy Glacier Track
Rob Roy Valley is a good entry point to an area of spectacular alpine scenery, snowfields, glaciers, sheer rock cliffs and waterfalls. The road to this track is unsealed and unsuitable for rental cars, but transportation to the beginning of the walk can be arranged.
Distance: 10 km. Completion Time: 3 - 4 hours return. There is avalanche danger during winter and spring (June-November) on the Rob Roy Track.
Roy's Peak Track
The most famous walk in the Wanaka area, this steep walk climbs 1,500m on a well-formed track with the most spectacular views of Lake Wanaka, its islands, bays, and the mighty snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps, including Mount Aspiring.
Distance: 16 km return via the same track. Completion Time: 5 - 6 hour return. This track is closed from the 1st of October - 10th November each year. In winter alpine equipment (such as crampons) are required.
Isthmus Peak Track
A long, steady climb that rewards walkers with spectacular, panoramic views of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea as well as the mountains of the Southern Alps.
Distance: 16 km return via the same track. Completion Time: 5 - 6 hour return. This track is closed from the 20th of November - 20th December each year. This track is not recommended in winter due to snow and ice build up on the track.
This amazing 30km scenic ride is ideal to get you away from the crowds and let you set the pace while exploring the beautiful surroundings. Guide yourself along a grade 2 trail that follows the Hawea and Clutha rivers. Stop for coffee or lunch along the way. You will then be transported to Lake Hawea and finish on the lakefront in beautiful Wanaka.
Warbirds and Wheels showcases a diverse collection of warbirds aircraft, classic cars, visual arts and tales of a local legend. The Classic Car collection is a superb lineup of vehicles dating from early 20th century to the present. The Warbirds trace the evolution of fighting aircraft alongside tales of the men who flew them, the Kiwi Fighter Ace collection.