Updated: 18 September 2020

There aren’t too many destinations like Wanaka in New Zealand, or anywhere in the world for that matter. We say this because it’s pretty much the perfect holiday destination. Picturesque, peaceful and with plenty of things to see and do.

As we head towards the summer months, there has never been a better time for Kiwis to explore Wanaka. With no international tourists, towns like Wanaka really need your support and this is a unique chance to enjoy this stunning destination with a lot fewer visitors than usual.

Get that perfect snap at the top of Roys Peak, enjoy the serenity of the famous Wanaka tree with no one else around, and support all the amazing local cafes and restaurants – GO local!

In order to get you excited about a trip to Wanaka this year, we thought we’d share our 13 favourite Wanaka attractions to convince you to make Wanaka the next place you visit.

1. Jet Boating

New Zealand is responsible for inventing some ingenious tourist attractions like the bungy jump and canyon swing but the one that started it all was the jet boat. Highly manoeuvrable and designed to skim across shallow riverbeds at very high speeds, a jet boat ride is one of the most exhilarating things you can do. On the waters of the iconic Lake Wanaka and Clutha River, you’ll also enjoy some spectacular scenery if you’re able to catch your breath and take it all in.

 

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2. Lake Wanaka

This list wouldn’t be complete without paying tribute to the attraction that Wanaka was founded on – Lake Wanaka itself. Lake Wanaka is the fourth largest lake in New Zealand and is the central lake of the Otago Lakes. Words scarcely do Lake Wanaka justice as it’s simply a stunning sight to see. There are a number of water activities you can enjoy here (some of which are mentioned in this post) but its pristine waters and the peaks of the Southern Alps in the background make it worth it for the views alone.

 

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3. Mou Waho Island

The stunning Lake Wanaka has a number of islands within it and a great one to visit is Mou Waho. You can get there via water taxi or enjoy a tour of the island and you can even camp there if you wish. There are a couple of pleasant walks to do when you’re there including a 3 km walk to a viewing point at 450 metres. There’s also plenty of native wildlife to see like Weka (native bird), Weta (native insect) and the South Island Gecko.

 

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4. Mount Aspiring National Park

New Zealand is blessed with some incredible national parks and Mt Aspiring National Park is definitely up there with the best. The remoteness of the park has meant the wilderness has been allowed to naturally flourish – a rare treat in the modern world. The park also has a stunning glacier known as the Rob Roy Glacier which you can see via the Rob Roy track, a highly recommended excursion.

 

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5. Mountain Biking

Wanaka has an astonishing 750km worth of biking trails in and around it with people travelling from all across the country (and abroad) to experience them. The trails come in all shapes and sizes from beginner tracks to technical hill climbs. For something casual, you might try the Hawea River Trail or Newcastle Track. For something challenging the 38km Grandview Ridge Track or a trip to the Sticky Forest will be the ones to make. There are some great bike tours to join as well.

 

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6. Puzzling World

An incredibly fun and amusing way to spend an afternoon is to go to the Puzzling World. It’s a great attraction for all ages and is one that includes illusion rooms, an outdoor maze, tilted houses, a hall of following faces and more. Their brain teasers will test the sharpest minds with their unique, bizarre and interesting challenges. A great option to get to on a rainy day too.

 

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7. Roys Peak

There are so many amazing natural attractions in Wanaka and Roys Peak is certainly a great example of one. You may not have heard of Roys Peak but chances are you’ll recognise its photos thanks to the amazing lookout point that people queue to get snaps from. You can get there via Roys Peak Track, which is an amazing experience but quite the hike at 5 – 6 hours return so a decent level of fitness/preparation is required. The views definitely make it worthwhile.

 

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8. Snow Farm

This particular part of the country is renowned for its great skiing and Snow Farm is one of the best places to hit the slopes. They cover a range of different snow-related pursuits including tubing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. You can also choose to stay overnight in one of their fantastic backcountry huts. If you want to make it a truly memorable experience give dog sledding a go which can be arranged through Underdog NZ.

 

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9. SUP and Kayaking

For those who aren’t afraid to break a bit of a sweat when on holiday, the team at Paddle Wanaka can help you out with a range of paddling activities. They offer a range of SUP and Kayaking tours with knowledgeable guides that take you along the most picturesque parts of Lake Wanaka and the Clutha River. They have different tours to suit a range of abilities so you can enjoy it with the whole family or other experienced paddlers.

 

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10. Wanaka Lavender Farm

One of the more unique attractions you can visit is the Wanaka Lavender Farm. The farm produces a variety of different lavender-based products like honey, soaps, cosmetics, teas, ice creams and more. These products are great (and make for perfect souvenirs for friends) but the real treat is the sight of the farm itself. The rows of blooming lavenders in front of the mountain peaks is about as picture-perfect as it gets.

 

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11. That Wanaka Tree

Wanaka has no shortage of Instagrammable spots but the most well-known has to be That Wanaka Tree which sits alone on the waters of Lake Wanaka. For years it went unnoticed by locals and visitors alike but some talented photographers saw its potential and the rest is history. You’ll find That Wanaka Tree walking south along the shores of Lake Wanaka. It can take a while to get to, but you’ll soon spot the crowds of people lining up their shots.

 

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12. Treble Cone Ski Field

Wanaka is a skiers and snowboarders paradise thanks in no small part to the Treble Cone Ski field. Treble Cone is the largest ski field in the South Island and is known for its amazing off-piste terrain. Much less crowded than the neighbouring ski fields of Queenstown, you’ll have plenty of space to enjoy and be able to take in the breathtaking views peacefully. If you’re lucky you might even see the odd Kea, the world’s only alpine parrot, flying about too.

 

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13. Wildwire Wanaka

Whether you’re a climbing enthusiast or someone who’s always wanted to give it a go, Wildwire Wanaka is the place to be. As one of the newer attractions in Wanaka, tickets here are highly sought after and for good reason. It gives you the opportunity to experience some great climbing alongside an amazing waterfall. As a matter of fact, it’s the highest waterfall cable climb in the world, reaching 450 metres!

 

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Some amazing Wanaka attractions to keep you busy for days

As you can see, there are some great Wanaka attractions to keep you entertained for days. If you’re flying into Queenstown (and collect your Queenstown Airport car rental from us) you’ll get there in just under an hour and the fun can begin!

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