From canoeing to campfires, Wanaka boasts a ski-town feel with spectacular lakes, cozy cafes and mountains to explore. Experience them all, in any season, and live the Kiwi dream.
Escape the Ordinary
There are some wonderfully quirky places to see in Lake Wanaka. Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World is bizarre and a classic stop on any Kiwi Experience. You’ll get lost in a world full of illusion rooms, mazes and even the toilets offer a photographic treat! Keep your eyes peeled for the leaning tower of Wanaka.
There’s an old school movie theater called ‘Cinema Paradiso’ where you can choose between sitting on a couch or in a car! At intermission (yes they still have them in Wanaka) you can enjoy hot cookies and homemade ice cream.
Wanaka Beerworks is a cheerful boutique brewery and Black Peak Gelato serves the best ice cream in New Zealand. You can choose between 68 flavors (we recommend the Hokey Pokey)!
Reach New Heights
Lake Wanaka is situated below the majestic mountains of the Southern Alps, the largest ski-able terrain in Australasia! Lake Wanaka is a paradise for those passionate about skiing. It has two world-class ski areas, impressive scenery and a vibrant resort town. The pace is slightly slower than Queenstown, which makes for ideal skiing for the beginner. But there are also plenty of adrenaline-fueled options from heli-skiing to cross-country touring.
Take a flight in a vintage plane or look up at the air show Wanaka holds every two years – the next one is this year! It’s classed as one of the best air shows in the world featuring historic aircraft, RNZAF jets, aerobatic formations and helicopters.
Hike to new heights up the Diamond Lake Track only 11 miles from Wanaka. It gets its name from the way it reflects the mountains. It isn’t particularly difficult to climb, with the first viewpoint taking only 20 minutes to reach. The peak is 2500 feet above ground, and from there you can enjoy a unique view of Lake Wanaka and spot Mou Waho & Mou Tapu islands.
Savor the Journey
Relax and stop off at a local cafe for lunch. Lake Wanaka prides itself on using only the freshest, local produce in all of its bars, cafes and restaurants. Definitely head to a lake front eatery, and overlook the picturesque lake as you savor some of the region’s best wine. We recommend Bistro Gentil. Lake Wanaka has something on the menu for everyone, from formal dinners to a casual get together, high end restaurants to cool burger bars, you’ll be spoiled for choice!
If you fancy some wine tasting, don’t miss Rippon Vineyard, which has seriously spectacular views. It’s no wonder it’s known as the most photographed vineyard in the world!
Canoeing or Kayaking is an exceptional way to explore the beautiful rivers and lakes of Wanaka. Canoeing and kayaking trips in Wanaka are available to suit all levels of confidence and experience, so you have the option to choose from furiously paddling the white-water or gently sailing down the river.
Definitely rent a bike for the day, as Lake Wanaka has over 400 miles of tracks to cycle. Wanaka hills are restricted to cyclists and walkers only, allowing you to go at your own rhythm and take in the view.
Look out for the ‘Lonely Tree of Wanaka’ the emblem of the area. It’s easy to spot as it grows in the middle of the water 32 feet away from the shore.
Take It All In
Truly immerse yourself in Lake Wanaka’s beauty with a camp out on the shoreline. There are loads of incredible camp sites in Wanaka, with all of the facilities to add a bit of comfort to your stay. Explore by campervan or pitch a tent, watch the sun go down over the mountains and look up at the stars.
If you really want to immerse yourself in nature, head to nearby Mount Aspiring National Park, popular for hiking, jetboating and camping. Stretch your legs and feed your soul in this beautiful wilderness of native forests, towering mountains and long river valleys.
Explore one of the most breath taking regions in New Zealand. Whether you do it by canoe or campervan, live the Kiwi Dream.