Wanaka, in the Otago region on New Zealand’s South Island, is a year-round hub of outdoor activities and breathtaking natural beauty. The lake town is set beneath Mount Aspiring National Park, which is part of the majestic Southern Alps. Come to this picturesque part of the country to hike, ski, fish and skydive, among other activities. Visit one of the acclaimed wineries nearby for those days when you just want to relax in the glorious outdoors.
Choose from ski slopes for every level of skier at Wanaka. Ski season runs from June to October, when you can enjoy 25 miles (50 kilometers) of cross-country ski area in the Mount Pisa ranges. Wanaka is an easy half-hour drive from Treble Cone, where you can test your skills on a vertical rise with stunning views over the lake. Shuttle buses run to the popular Cardrona slopes a little farther away.
During the warmer months the inviting waters of Lake Wanaka are a perfect spot for wakeboarding, sailing, waterskiing and trout fishing. Take a sailboat to Mou Waho Island, where you’ll be approached by New Zealand’s friendliest bird, the flightless weka. Hire a kayak or sailing boat to help you find a secluded beach along the lake’s shore.
Adrenaline junkies can take a jet boat tour, or go canyoning through forested waterfalls. Skydive over the lake and snow-capped peaks or take a scenic helicopter ride. Look for familiar scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as this area was used as a location during filming of the popular movie series.
Take a wine tour to taste the fare of several nearby vineyards. Enjoy incredible views as you sip your pinot noir. Sample some Lake Wanaka trout at the wide choice of restaurants or head to one of the bars for cocktails by the fire.
Great attractions for families include the Wanaka National Transport and Toy Museum and Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World.
Wanaka is a 60-minute drive from Queenstown. Catch a shuttle bus or hire a car. Tour operators organise ski and adventure packages that make getting around easy.