Top things to do in Wanaka - for a truly local experience

Nestled into a spectacular landscape boasting glacial carved mountains, lakes, rivers and valleys, Wanaka is known around the globe for it’s world-class adventures.

From biking, hiking and skiing, through to wining, dining and savouring, there’s something for everyone.

As passionate explorers and helpful hosts, we’ve pulled together our top local recommendations for things to do in Wanaka. If you’d like customised tips suited to your unique needs and wants or require assistance booking your adventure, we’re happy to help.

Experience the lake

First thing’s first, we’re called Lake Wanaka for a reason. Though many are drawn to our wonderful region for the mountains and trails, the lake itself is much more than a pretty background. We encourage all who visit to get on the water and experience Wanaka from this unique, revealing vantage point.

Wanaka Eco Tours are run by a passionate local couple who have been doing their part to protect the unique islands within Lake Wanaka for over fifteen years. Our favourite journey is out to Mao Waho Island – the island with a lake in the middle – where you can see for yourself how our region was crafted throughout time. With every trip, Chris and Leigh plant a native tree for the future.

Explore the rivers

Wanaka Alpine Lodge is surrounded by a network of rivers, running from the valleys feeding into Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea through to Cromwell, Clyde and beyond. From the doorstep of the lodge you can access spectacular walking and bike tracks along the river corridors.

Wanaka River Journeys offers an exciting collection of adventures, from a jet boat up the Matukituki Valley through to packrafting and heli combos.

If fishing is your passion, you can either try your luck in the Clutha River just a stone’s throw away from your accommodation or opt for a guaranteed catch and delicious cook up at Hook ‘lake to plate’ salmon fishing and restaurant experience.

The Wanaka bike loop

Whether you’re a seasoned mountain biker or just looking for a Sunday pedal, Wanaka Alpine Lodge is nestled within a range of bike trails. While intermediate mountain bike track Deans Bank is just around the corner, there is also a wonderful loop that takes you right from our front door.

Try this for a day’s exploring: head out along river trails, into town for a lake-side ice cream, back past Mount Iron and down to Hook for a freshly caught salmon dinner and local bottle of wine, then back to Wanaka Alpine Lodge for the evening. We have mountain bikes available for guests to use, or if you prefer a bit of a boost talk to Wanaka Bike Tours about hiring an ebike which they’ll happily drop off to the lodge.

Hit the slopes

Wanaka Alpine Lodge is located between two of New Zealand’s world-class ski fields. Cardrona Ski Field is perfect for the whole family, with slopes for all ages and levels – including those who come for the mulled wine and views. Treble Cone Ski Field is the local favourite, as it’s steeper incline and spectacular lake views set to challenge and delight. Though in saying that, they also have mulled wine.

If you’re looking for something a little different, check out the range of adventures at Snow Farm. Just across the valley from Cardrona Ski Field, you’ll find cross country skiing, snowshoeing and husky sledding up to backcountry huts and spectacular scenery, as well as the family friendly Snow Zone.

Rainy day

Our go-to for a rainy day in Wanaka is the local favourite Paradiso Cinema – now with a new bookshop out front. This little gem is the true meaning of an independent cinema, with a whole lot of personality and a range of movies from mainstream hits to indie winners. The best bit is you can pick a cookie at the beginning of the movie to be freshly baked and ready for devouring at intermission. Yes, there is intermission.