Originally settled during the gold rush, this South Island New Zealand town is full of golden things to do. Tourism in Wanaka began nearly 150 years ago, so they’re pretty good at it by now. Climb Mount Iron to get an idea of your surroundings and take in the views. Wanaka sits on the shore of Lake Wanaka and is a true tourist’s wonderland.
In summer, enjoy white water rafting on the Clutha River. In winter, go skiing at Treble Cone. And at any time of year, make like a crazy, thrill-seeking Kiwi (the human variety, as opposed to the flightless bird not noted for its risk-taking) and try bungy jumping or jet boating. For the less adventurous, there are plenty of nearby wineries – just don’t make any daredevil promises after having a few too many, or mispronounce Wanaka’s name…
Wanaka's Top 10
10. Cinema Paradiso This vintage cinema has kept its old-school charm, with warm cookies during intermission.
5. Basecamp Wanaka Climbing Centre With outdoor climbing walls, you can pretend you are scaling the real thing.
9. Rippon Vineyard and Winery If there is one thing the Kiwis do well it is wine – give the Sauvignon Blanc a go.
4. Warbirds Museum What guy doesn’t like fighter aircraft? This museum has an impressive and very macho display of old planes to keep him occupied…
8. Transport and Toy Museum Travel back in time as you remember all the old toys from your childhood.
3. Scenic Flight Get up there with the birds and view some world-famous glaciers up close.
7. Skiing or Hiking Winter or summer, get yourself onto the mountains.
2. Mount Aspiring National Park Go get lost in nature – many people stay in the park for days (intentionally, we should add!).
6. Wanaka Beerworks They have a tasting room. Do we really need to say anything else?
1. Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World Lose yourself in the maze and your mind in the optical illusions.
In January, the Challenge Wanaka triathlon will have you running, riding and swimming amongst some of New Zealand’s finest scenery.
The Rippon Festival in February is a huge outdoor music festival with a picturesque view. Now all you have to do is become a rock star – as the view looks even cooler from the stage!
Held every second year over Easter is the Warbirds Over Wanaka Air Show.Pretend you are in England during WWII as the old planes fly overhead.
Taking place every second year in April, the Festival of Colour is a celebration of the arts and a very entertaining time of year to be in Wanaka.
In October, the town comes alive for Wanakafest, which involves food, wine, beer and even a wheelie bin race. That’s right… a wheelie bin race!
When To Go
Wanaka experiences four distinct seasons, meaning you can enjoy different activities at different times of the year.
It doesn’t rain all that much, but the wettest time of year is from September to December.
In summer, the mercury can top 35ºC (95ºF), but in winter the surrounding mountains are covered in snow.
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With the fresh country air blowing off the lake and down from the mountains, Wanaka is crying out for you to walk.
You could also rent a mountain bike and ride the trails surrounding the town.
Alternatively, grab a gold coin and wait at a WanaRide Share location to get a lift in a car – an interesting environmental initiative in Wanaka.
The Central Otago four seasons resort of Wanaka has fast become one of the most popular holiday targets on the South Island of New Zealand. The former 19th century gold rush town has seen phenomenal growth over the past decade, not just as a gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, the Central Otago Wine Region and Lakes District but also as a premier destination in of itself.
With innovative restaurants, vibrant nightlife and a full calendar of festivals, Wanaka is sublime. Outdoor recreation and adventure tourism put the resort town over the top however, with a slew of options to suit every taste. Lake Wanaka draws water sports enthusiasts every summer, with nearby Mount Aspiring National Park a boon for hikers and mountain bikers. The slopes of Snow Farm, Snow Park, Treble Cone and Cardrona Alpine Resort make Wanaka a premier winter getaway as well. No matter what the season, Wanaka is a dynamic destination.
Attractions and activities
Restaurant and Nightlife
Wanaka has a continental climate, with four distinct seasons.
- Summer (November to February) 7-23°C
- Fall (March to May) 2-19°C
- Winter (June to August) 0-10°C
- Spring (September to October) 3-16°C
17 hotels in Wanaka, NZ
Guests can plan their stay at Base Backpackers Wanaka Hostel, which is known for its quality amenities, friendly staff and well connected location. Area attractions of the city are National... More
Oakridge Resort Wanaka welcomes travellers to well-equipped accommodations while in a vibrant getaway in this part of New Zealand. Visitors at this Wanaka resort can experience water activities at... More
Set on the edge of the calm waters of the lake, Edgewater offers a tranquil holiday haven for discerning travellers in this part of New Zealand. During autumn in Wanaka, tourists admire the palate... More
The Wanaka Springs Boutique Lodge is a place of comfort and beauty, offering luxury bed and breakfast accommodation in tranquil natural surroundings and everything you will need for ease,... More
Aspiring Holiday Park & Motels provides comfortable family accommodation with extensive facilities and makes the guests to enjoy all the privileges, for an unforgettable stay. GeneralGuests can... More
If you want to enjoy the beauty of natural stone, the setting sun glowing on the surrounding mountains and the spectacular beauty of a crystal clear night sky, then visit the Wyndham Wanaka. ... More
Placed in a picturesque setting and offering luxurious accommodation, BEST WESTERN Belvedere Luxury Apartments is a perfect place to relax in serenity. GeneralBEST WESTERN Belvedere Luxury... More
Set in landscaped grounds with a backdrop of spectacular mountain scenery, the Minaret Lodge is a sanctuary providing luxury accommodation in Wanaka. GeneralAt leisure, you can enjoy a game of... More
Grand Mercure Oakridge Resort Lake Wanaka is an ideal base for an adventure-filled vacation. Nature lovers explore Mt Aspiring National Park, Glendhu Bay and Eely Point Reserve, while collectors... More