Flight Centre Travel Guides: Wanaka

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Wanaka Holidays

Often overlooked in favour of Queenstown, its adventure-centric neighbour, there is so much to lose if you bypass a trip to Wanaka. Situated next to the stunning Lake Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island, Wanaka has been dubbed a “lifestyle reserve” for good reason.

The pace of life in this Kiwi treasure is whatever you want it to be – you can spend the day skiing, skydiving, rock climbing, mountain biking or simply drinking endless cups of delicious coffee at one of the beautiful cafés with views of the lake.

Sitting on the doorstep of the spectacular Mount Aspiring National Park, Wanaka is the perfect location to entertain the adrenaline addict in you, or you could step back and indulge your inner nature lover and culture vulture.

Thrillseekers will love…

  • Waterfall abseiling at Deep Canyon
  • A scenic heli-flight to Fiordland
  • Trekking to the peak of Mt Aspiring

Top Attractions

With an abundance of natural beauty at your fingertips, spending plenty of time outdoors is mandatory when visiting Wanaka. Walking and cycling tracks weave their way around the lakes and nearby hills, while Mount Aspiring National Park is the perfect site for outdoor exploration. Drink in the spectacular views from up high before heading back into town to get involved in activities that will surely get your adrenaline pumping.

Skydiving, canyoning, river surfing and bungee jumping are all popular activities in Wanaka. Discover Central Otago’s history with a trip to the Fighter Pilots Museum and the National Transport and Toy Museum.

Of course, if you’re visiting Wanaka during the snow season, skiing or snowboarding are likely to be at the top of your agenda. Rest assured that Cardrona, Treble Cone and Snow Farm offer world-class snow sports for beginners and seasoned veterans alike.

Fun for all ages at…

  • Puzzling World
  • Cinema Paradiso
  • Transport & Toy Museum

With so much fresh, quality produce on offer, it’s no wonder Wanaka’s food and wine scene is thriving. The region’s wines are award winning and cater for all palates, from specialist, artisan wines to household brands. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit one of Wanaka’s boutique wineries to sample local wines among the picturesque vines. The boutique brewery scene is also growing in Wanaka, so if beer is more to your taste, you can get in on the fun too.

A foodie culture is well and truly thriving in Wanaka, with a host of trendy cafés, bars and restaurants dotted around town and along the lakefront. There’s a diverse range of cuisines to choose from, including Mexican, Thai, Indian, Lebanese, Japanese and authentic Kiwi. Don’t forget to save room for Wanaka’s award-winning ice cream.

Where to Stay

Whatever your budget or needs, Wanaka has accommodation to suit. There are some excellent camp sites with great facilities available right by the lake if you’re driving through, or choose one of the many boutique lodges and apartments if you’re planning to stay longer. Aim for accommodation close to the lakefront, which will put you right in the hub of the main town and provide you with picture-perfect views to wake up to each morning.

If you’re in the mood for something more secluded, nearby Cardrona is a rustic hamlet set on the highest paved highway in the country, and is within easy driving distance of both Wanaka and Queenstown. It’s also a great place to position yourself for snow sports, as Cardrona Alpine Resort is widely considered the skiing mecca of New Zealand.

The closest slopes are…

  • Snow Farm
  • Treble Cone
  • Cardrona


Wanaka’s independent boutiques and speciality stores that litter the lakefront and town centre are interspersed with national chains, meaning your every whim is catered for in the most picturesque of settings. There’s an array of gorgeous gift stores that are bursting with excuses to part with your cash, including some locally crafted items that make wonderful take-home gifts or souvenirs.

Wanaka Like a Local

If you want to experience Wanaka like a local, why not try a bit of everything? Take some time to try skiing or mountain biking, relax by the crystal-clear lakes, sip wine at a local vineyard or cruise in and out of the local cafés. If you want to chat to some of the passionate and proud locals, head to one of the local pubs where you’re sure to be regaled with a local yarn.

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