Horseback riding, Lake Wanaka – Image courtesy of Lake Wanaka Tourism
Things to do in Wanaka
Wanaka offers a range of active pursuits that provide the opportunity of getting up close and personal with the region's stunning scenery.
Skiing – Choose from two closest ski fields: Cardrona and Treble Cone are just 40 minutes from Wanaka. In addition, you can find Nordic skiing at Waiorau Nordic Field, in the Cardrona Valley and cross-country skiing and heli-skiing in the Harris Mountains.
Jet-Boating – Sit back, buckle up and feel the adrenalin rush of blasting through narrow river gorges, almost touching sheer rock faces, or skim across the surface of water channels that weave through the shingle banks of shallow intertwined rivers.
Wilkin River Jets (www.wilkinriverjets.co.nz) offers a one hour thrill for NZ$98 as well as combo packages that include a helicopter flight, bush walk and river jet from NZ$359. Wanaka River Journeys (www.wanakariverjourneys.co.nz), offers Matukituki River trips that includes a wilderness walk for NZ$255.
Kayaking – The Wanaka region offers several rivers that are perfect for kayaking. Alpine Kayak Guides (www.alpinekayaks.co.nz) offers half-and full-day trips on three rivers, ranging in difficulty from beginner to experienced. Priced at NZ$155 including equipment, lessons and lunch. Trips last 5 to 8 hours and run daily from November to April.
Canyoning – Explore river canyons using a variety of means including rappelling, walking, climbing, jumping, swimming and using ziplines. Deep Canyon (www.deepcanyon.co.nz) offers a 7 1/2-hour adventure for NZ$240 including lunch from November through April.
Mountain Biking – There are excellent (and easy) biking tracks around Lake Wanaka as well as further afield. Numerous bike trails crisscross the local area with information available from the Department of Conservation’s office in Wanaka. Mountain bikes can be rented from Racer’s Edge/Mountain Bikes Unlimited (www.racersedge.co.nz) for NZ$65 per day. Lakeland Adventures (next door to the information centre) rents bikes for NZ$15 per hour or NZ$30 for a half-day.
Quad Bikes - Cardrona Adventure Park (www.adventurepark.co.nz) offers tours on four-wheel all-terrain quad bikes priced from NZ$185 for a 2-hour adventure. You must hold a valid driver’s license.
Climbing – The region offers more than 150 climbs across a wide range of grades, from absolute beginners to ‘rock jocks’ in the Matukituki Valley on the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park. Wanaka Rock Climbing (www.wanakarock.co.nz) offers a variety of climbs from NZ$120.
Walking – Choose from a range of walks in Mount Aspiring National Park from easy strolls through lowland forest to hiking mountain tracks. The Department of Conservation office offers brochures and a wide range of info on all the local trails.
Eco Wanaka Adventures (www.ecowanaka.co.nz) offers a full-day guided Rob Roy Glacier Valley Trek priced from NZ$255; Siberia Experience (www.siberiaexperience.co.nz) offers a combo package of scenic flight, jet boat and a 3-hour guided walk in remote beech forests for NZ$347; while Wild Walks (www.wildwalks.co.nz) offers specialist mountain guides that take just five people maximum into remote backcountry locations. Their 3-day Mt. Aspiring Discovery costs from NZ$940.
Fishing – Fly-fishing opportunities abound in the Wanaka area, with numerous experienced guides operating on the rivers and lakes.
Lakeland Adventures (www.lakelandadventures.co.nz) offers guided trout fishing for three people from NZ$330; Southern Lakes Fishing Safaris (www.southernlakesfishing.co.nz) specializes in fly-fishing for all levels of experience and charges from NZ$675 for a full day for one to two people; and Eco Wanaka Adventures (www.ecowanaka.co.nz), offers a 3-hour boat fishing excursion from 9am, for NZ$195.
Golf – Tee-off at the Wanaka Golf Club (www.wanakagolf.co.nz), a challenging 18-hole course with stunning views. Cost: NZ$60 for 18 holes or NZ$40 for 9 holes.
Scenic Flights – Check out nature’s beauty with a scenic flight over glaciers, snow-capped mountains, rivers, forests and national parks.
Aspiring Air (www.nz-flights.com) offers a variety of scenic flights from NZ$185 around the Mount Aspiring, as well as a Milford Sound combo flight that includes a boat cruise for NZ$445; Alpine Helicopters (www.alpineheli.co.nz) offers a scenic flight over Wanaka for NZ$185; while Aspiring Helicopters (www.aspiringhelicopters.co.nz) offers a 50-minute Mount Aspiring and Glacier trip with snow landing for NZ$420.