10 Wanaka Must-Dos
Things you Can’t miss in Wanaka!
Wanaka is fast becoming a top destination for travellers and for good reason. There’s so much to do here! Surrounded by mountains, lakes and the Mt Aspiring National Park, adventures are only a short drive away. However, you can’t do everything. With that in mind, we’ve put together this Wanaka must-dos list to make that Wanaka travel itinerary a little easier to make.
It’s true, there’s so much to do in Wanaka that we have a full guide to Wanaka right here. However, not even the locals end up doing everything, so we’ve narrowed this must-do in Wanaka list to a few highlights for those with limited time in the area. However, it’s definitely worth staying a while to do a few things, so take a look at our 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Wanaka and 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Wanaka for some affordable accommodation.
1. Hike Roy’s Peak
This is by far the most popular day hike in the area. The views from the top of Roy’s Peak are what you see on every Wanaka postcard. See them for yourself from 1,578m on this 5-6 hour return track. It’s a relatively steep track and mostly exposed so be prepared! It’s also one of the free things to do in Wanaka. (Be aware that the track is closed mid-September to mid-November for the lambing season.
Location: The Roys Peak Track carpark is 6km from the Wanaka on the Mt Aspiring Road.
2. Take a photo of “That Wanaka Tree”
Ok, we didn’t really want to put this high on the Wanaka must-do list but since you’re gonna do it anyway, it might as well be there! Yes, taking a photo of the lonely tree on the edge of Lake Wanaka has become the biggest tourism trend in Wanaka. Looking so picturesque with the views of mountains in the background, we won’t judge you for jumping on the bandwagon too.
Location: From the west end of town, walk to Stony Creek along the lakeshore.
3. Climb a waterfall with Wild Wire
For your dose of adventure in Wanaka, check out Wild Wire. This experience allows you to climb an 80m waterfall over a 1000m Via Ferrata course with no prior climbing experience needed. Via Ferrata is a is a course following a steel cable while using metal pegs, handholds, footholds and bridges. The result is climbing the huge Twin Falls with spectacular views along the way.
Location: Pick-ups available from the Wanaka township with Wild Wire.
4. Take a road trip down Haast Pass
One of the great road trips from Lake Wanaka is down Haast Pass. Passing through the wild mountainous landscape of the Mt Aspiring National Park, there are many incredible sights to see along the way. Stop by the Blue Pools of Haast for an hour walk to a vibrant blue river. Thunder Creek Falls, Fantail Falls and Roaring Billy are awesome waterfall photo stops to see on the Haast road too.
Location: State Highway 6 between Haast and Makarora. 64km from Wanaka.
5. Ski or Snowboard at Treble Cone
In winter, it’s all about the snow sports in Wanaka. Treble Cone is the South Island’s largest ski field with excellent terrain for both beginners and experienced snow bums. With that, if you’re only going to pick one ski field while visiting Wanaka, why not Treble Cone? Find out more about the ski season in New Zealand here.
Location: 23km from Wanaka along the Mt Aspiring Road.
6. Hike the Rob Roy Track
Another fantastic hike in the Wanaka area is the Rob Roy Track (confusing, right?). Get stuck into hiking in rugged alpine landscapes complete with glaciers, snowfields, waterfalls and sheer cliffs. The one-way track takes about 3-4 hours to make the return trip on what’s described as a relatively easy hike.
Location: 54km from Wanaka on the Mt Aspiring Road. Start from the Raspberry Creek car park.
7. Go Canyoning in the Mt Aspiring National Park
To crank the adventure up a notch, why not jump, abseil, slide, climb and swim through the Mt Aspiring National Park?! Canyoning is one of the more extreme but ridiculously fun ways to experience the great outdoors. One of the top canyoning trips in New Zealand is right here in the Mt Aspiring National Park with trips departing from Wanaka.
Location: Haast Pass, Mt Aspiring National Park. Pick-ups are available in Wanaka. Book your canyoning trip in Wanaka here.
8. Fly a plane
A scenic flight is a sensational experience in itself. Flying the plane yourself? Well, that takes the experience to a whole new level. As one of the more unique activities in Wanaka, flying with U-Fly, Learn to Fly NZ or Southern Lakes Learn to Fly has to be on our Wanaka must-do list!
Location: Wanaka Airport.
9. Get puzzled at Puzzling World
Another unique attraction with a hint of the bizarre is Puzzling World! As the perfect indoor activity for those times when the weather isn’t playing ball, Puzzling World has to grace this must do in Wanaka list somewhere! See some weird illusions, holograms, brain teasers and try to complete The Great Maze!
Location: 3km from Wanaka. 188 Wanaka-Luggate Highway.
10. Kayak or SUP on Lake Wanaka
Spending time in Wanaka without heading out on Lake Wanaka would be a crime! One of the fun ways to get out on the lake is by kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding (a favourite Kiwi pastime). Kayaking is the best choice for long trips out on the lake, while paddleboarding is best done to explore the bays close to the Wanaka waterfront.
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