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31 Best Things to do in Wanaka, New Zealand

31 Best Things to do in Wanaka, New Zealand

Wanaka is a tiny, gorgeous town surrounded by the Southern Alps. As an adventure lover’s paradise, there are tons of fun things to do in Wanaka. From mountain carting down the very steep Cardrona mountain to jet boating the longest river in New Zealand – I can assure you, you won’t get bored in Wanaka.

Wanaka is quirky, cool, and undeniably beautiful. In fact, I’d live in Wanaka in a heartbeat (but don’t tell Queenstown!)

They say the best things come in small packages, and the small town of Wanaka certainly delivers on that front. I dare you to read this article in full and not want to visit Wanaka at the end.

Here’s my guide to the 31 best things to do in Wanaka!

Things to do in Wanaka

1. Hike Roy’s Peak

The famous Peak on the Roys Peak track.
The view most people come for on Roy’s Peak

Not for the faint-hearted, this famed hike has easily the most famous viewpoint in all of New Zealand near its summit. Roy’s Peak Track is a favorite with Instagram-lovers due to the phenomenal view of the Southern Alps from the famous viewpoint. This view makes it one of the best hikes on the South Island and easily one of the most popular things to do in New Zealand. But don’t be fooled by its popularity, you have to work for that view!

Roy’s Peak is a 16-kilometer (10 miles) trek that takes around 7 hours to complete. The hike itself is mostly uphill with the odd viewpoint along the way, but for the majority of the hike, there isn’t a whole lot to see. For such a steep hike, the track is wide and well-trodden – so, that’s a plus.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you, as like most of the popular hikes in New Zealand, there’s no shop or cafe at the summit or on the way up. You’ll find the trailhead only 5 minutes out of Wanaka on Wanaka Mt Aspiring Road.

Important: Roy’s Peak is closed from the 1st of October to the 10th of November every year for lambing season.

2. Explore the Wanaka Lavender Farm

Bailey walks down a row of lavender at the Wanaka Lavender Farm
In summer the colors are amazing!

Lavender is, in my opinion, the world’s most photogenic flower. So, as you can imagine the photo opportunities at the Wanaka Lavender Farm are endless. Spread across 20 acres, the farm is also home to yummy lavender ice cream as well as Lakes Honey. And if you’re traveling with little ones, there’s an on-site petting zoo to keep them occupied.

The best time to visit is from November through to the beginning of March when the lavender is blooming. Entrance fees to the Wanaka Lavender Farm are $5 NZD per adult in the winter and $10 in the summer.

Related Read: The Wanaka Lavender Farm is one of the best stops on the scenic drive from Wanaka to Mount Cook as well as the drive from Wanaka to Christchurch – find out what the other best stops are in my blog.

3. Visit #ThatWanakaTree

The lone Wanaka Tree during the day
Unfortunately, the tree has lost a few branches since this photo. The worst part is that it was vandalized!

#ThatWanakaTree, a tree so famous that it has its own hashtag. This lone willow tree is the most photographed tree in New Zealand and visiting is one of the best free things to do in Wanaka.

That Wanaka Tree is located a short walk from Wanaka town center along the lakefront to Roy’s Bay. Just look out for the crowds gathered on the edge of the lake and you’ve likely found it.

The best times to visit are for sunrise or sunset for that gorgeous glow on Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps behind the tree. This spot is one of the reasons Wanaka is considered one of the most romantic getaways in NZ. At sunset though, be prepared for a large crowd!

4. Go Skiing at Cardrona

A lady sits on a seat at the top of Cardrona Ski Field
Spring skiing at Cardrona

Did you know – Cardrona Ski Resort welcomes the most skiers of any ski field in New Zealand. Cardrona is ideal for beginners with its wide and open terrain, but it’s also popular with intermediate skiers and the more advanced.

Cardrona has a gondola as well as 2 high-speed quad chair lifts and lots of runs ranging from green to black. Be aware, that over the Australian and New Zealand school holiday period from late June to early July, Cardrona gets really busy. Also worth noting is a lot of the snow on Cardrona is machine-made. This may be disappointing for skiers who have previously skied in Canada, the USA, and parts of Europe.

If you have little ones, the Ski School Program on the mountain is excellent. Cardrona also has childcare facilities if you wish to ski child-free.

The access road to Cardrona Ski Field is winding and for the most part – a gravel road, so be very careful driving up and down. Alternatively, shuttle buses are available from both Wanaka and Queenstown for about $20 NZD for a return ride.

If you really love skiing in New Zealand then you can visit more ski fields than simply just Cardrona. In fact, there are four ski fields near Wanaka that are all under a 40-minute drive. Hit up Treble Cone Ski Area, the Snow Farm (for cross-country skiing), or Soho Basin for a unique snowcat skiing experience.

Related Read: For more info on Cardrona Alpine Resort, read my blog about skiing in Queenstown!

5. Check out the Cardrona Bras

Two people at Bradrona near Wanaka, New Zealand
There are so many bras!

A cheeky stop along Crown Range Road that links Queenstown to Wanaka is the Cardrona Bras! The bras are located next to Cardrona Distillery just down the road from the Cardona Hotel.

The cause of some controversy locally, it is believed the first bras appeared on the fence here in late 1998. Today, Cardrona’s population of bras has grown into thousands and the donation box at the site has raised thousands for cancer research. The stop has become so popular with tourists that the town of Cardrona has earned the cheeky nickname ‘Bradrona’.

6. Take in the views on Rob Roy Glacier Track

Views of Rob Roy Glacier from the trail
What a view!

A relatively easy hike an hour drive from Wanaka, Rob Roy Glacier Track is a favorite of mine. As the name suggests, the main drawcard of this hike is the chance to see active glaciers.

The drive to the trailhead of the Rob Roy Hike is equally as stunning as it brings you along the Matukituki Valley.

This 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) hike takes about half a day to complete (so, allow up to 4 hours). The track is located within Mount Aspiring National Park and it’s truly stunning with glaciers, waterfalls, and high mountain peaks! As mentioned, the active glaciers here are the flavor of the day on this hike. From the viewing points on the trail, you can listen for avalanches and other signs of movement within the glaciers.

This is a relatively easy hike, with a gradual incline towards the glacier viewing point. Worth noting is that, unlike Roy’s Peak, this hike has lots to see along the hike itself – so, be prepared to stop and take photos constantly.

7. Hike Diamond Lake Track

Looking over Lake Wanaka on the Diamond Lake Viewpoint Track
Looking over Lake Wanaka! I wish I had better weather!

One of the best hikes in Wanaka, and one of the best things to do, is hiking Diamond Lake Track. This easy 7-kilometer (4.3 miles) loop track is rated as easy, and as such, can get pretty busy, especially during the summer months.

On your way up I recommend heading East (to the right) and taking the Rocky Mountain Track to Rocky Peak Summit. Along the way, you will be rewarded with stunning 360-degree views of Mount Aspiring, Roy’s Peak, as well as Treble Cone ski field in the distance. Then, come down the other side and loop back to your starting point.

Another recommendation is to wear hiking boots for this track, or waterproof shoes with good soles as it can be very slippery and muddy in parts.

Related Read: For other easy hiking trails nearby, check out my blog about the best easy hikes in Queenstown!

8. Drive the Crown Range

The Crown Range Road after snowing
Crown range Road looking back towards Queenstown.

Drive the highest main road in all of New Zealand! A road trip from Queenstown to Wanaka on Crown Range Road is a staple on almost every Queenstown itinerary. Full of narrow twists and turns, this drive is not only one of the best things to do in Queenstown but in Wanaka also!

You’ll certainly want to stop at some of the viewpoints along the way – one of the most popular is the viewpoint halfway up the hill called Arrow Junction Lookout after you take the turn-off near Lake Hayes in Queenstown. This viewpoint has an awesome view of Arrowtown and Lake Hayes. Then, at the very top of the hill is another viewpoint and from there you can walk to the Crown Range Summit. So, park your car and continue along the narrow track for an equally great view of the valley.

If you plan on driving the Crown Range during the winter months in NZ (especially between May and September) be sure to bring snow chains as this road can get particularly snowy and closures are common. In winter, you should always check Crown Range Road conditions before you set off.

Related Read: For another epic road trip, check out the scenic drive from Queenstown to Mount Cook. Along this route, there are plenty of things to do and see.

9. Test your nerves and go Skydiving

Skydiving at Wanaka
Photo credit: Skydive Wanaka

Depending on how brave you’re feeling – you can choose from a 9,000ft; 12,000ft or 15,000ft tandem skydive in Wanaka. But in all seriousness, if you’ve made the decision to skydive in NZ in the first place, you’re pretty dang brave in my opinion!

As I’ve mentioned numerous times already, the scenery in Wanaka is outstanding – so, what better way to see it than by jumping out of a specially designed fixed-wing plane. From your awesome vantage point high up in the sky, you’ll spot lakes, the Southern Alps, the Clutha River, and even see as far as Mount Cook!

Lesser known fact – you can reach a speed of up 200km per hour when you skydive, that’s 200 feet per second!

The minimum weight to go skydiving in Wanaka is 30kg (66lbs), and individuals weighing more than 95kg (209lbs) are subject to a Tandem Master assessment at check-in. Children over 6 can jump the 9,000ft option, provided they weigh more than 30kg (66lbs).

Prices are from $379 for 15,000ft. $309 for 12,000ft. $279 for 9,000ft. You can book your skydive in advance so you don’t chicken out too!

10. Get tipsy on a wine tour/tasting

Grape vines at Rippon Winery, Wanaka
Rippon Winery is absolutely beautiful!

It’s no secret that Central Otago wines are among the most celebrated in the world. In fact, there are over 120 celebrated vineyards in this region (which includes Cromwell, Gibbston Valley, and Bannockburn).

Depending on how many wineries you want to visit/how much wine you want to taste, you may opt for a full or half-day tour.

A half-day tour will typically include tastings at 4 vineyards, gourmet food and wine pairing, and a knowledgeable friendly guide. 

A full-day tour is more slow-paced and includes a visit to up to six wineries. This particular tour also includes a gourmet lunch!

11. Drink local craft beer

Rhyme and Reason Brewery
Nothing beats New Zealand craft beer! Photo credit: Rhyme and Reason Brewery

Craft beer is almost a religion in New Zealand, with most towns and cities producing their own craft beer. In fact, Wanaka is actually home to the most breweries per capita in New Zealand. To many, this alone makes it a top spot to visit on the South Island.

In Wanaka, a trendy local brewery is Rhyme & Reason on Gordon Road. Here, they offer ten taps of their own beers, and sometimes a guest beer may appear behind the bar. A top tip for beer lovers is to book in advance for a tour of the brewery.

Wanaka Beerworks located at 891 Wanaka-Luggate Highway is home to the super-popular Brewski and Jabberwocky beers. Since 1998, the guys at Wanaka Beerworks have certainly helped to put Wanaka on the craft beer map.

If you ever happen to be in Wanaka for the first week in December – then buying a ticket for Wanaka Beer Fest is a must. Here, over a dozen of the country’s best and most-awarded breweries serve up the very best in craft beer. All this and more against the backdrop of Mt Iron, the Pisa Ranges, and Roys Peak! Tickets for this event typically cost from $30.

Related Read: For beer lovers, be sure to read my best places to drink craft beer in Queenstown guide.

12. Visit a local café

A cup of barista made coffee
Mmmm coffee!

I’ve always said that nobody does coffee better than the Kiwi’s (sorry Italy.) But in all seriousness, you can even grab an epic flat white at most gas stations across New Zealand. I think it’s fair to say, Kiwi’s are indeed very fussy about their coffee.

Well then, it’s no surprise that Wanaka is no stranger to great coffee. Some of my favorite Cafes in Wanaka include The Coffee Shack on Brownston Street, Ritual Espresso on Helwick Street, and Curbside Coffee & Bagels on Ardmore Street. All serve the best coffee in Wanaka!

13. Frisbee golf

Disk golf at Wanaka in Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Disc Golf Wanaka

Frisbee golf is similar to golf in the sense that both can have 9 or 18 holes, and in the game, you throw a frisbee (also known as a disc) at a target. It’s a very popular sport, particularly on the South Island of New Zealand.

You can choose from two frisbee golf courses in Wanaka – Lismore Park and Eely Point. Eely Point is just a few minute’s drive from Wanaka town center. It’s a wooded course, most similar to the Queenstown Gardens course (if you’re familiar with this popular course in Queenstown). It’s a little more difficult than Lismore, so it’s more suited to those who are familiar with the sport of frisbee golf.

Lismore Park has 18 baskets and gorgeous views of Mount Aspiring and Roy’s Peak. It is a short 5-minute walk from the town center.

You can rent your frisbee discs at Outside Sports on Dunmore St and Racers Edge on Ardmore St.

14. Scenic flight

Views of the Southern Alps on a scenic flight
Flying high on my scenic flight above the Southern Alps near Mt Cook!

A helicopter flight over the Southern Alps, in my opinion, should be added to everyone’s bucket list – exploring untouched valleys, mountain ranges rivers, and more!

Helicopter flights from Wanaka

If you’re on a budget, you can book a 25-minute scenic flight over the local Wanaka area that even includes an alpine landing (snow not guaranteed but is nearly always present). The price of this starts from $185 per person.

If you have a little bit more to spend, this 35-minute scenic flight with an alpine landing is a great option! It flies into the stunning Mt Aspiring National Park. It’s also one of the best things to do in Mount Aspiring National Park. When I did a scenic flight in Mount Cook it was also 35 minutes which to me was the perfect amount of time.

If you wish to be in the air longer, you can explore more of Mt Aspiring via this 1-hour helicopter ride – in my option this is my recommendation for a full experience that won’t feel as rushed as some of the shorter flights. This option costs $595 NZD.

Fixed-wing flights from Wanaka

If you don’t fancy a helicopter, then a fixed-wing plane may be best. These aircraft are larger than helicopters with 12 passenger seats typically. It is also more similar to your standard commercial airplane – which may make you feel more comfortable.

The tour options for a fixed-wing flight include a Milford Sound fly-over flight which is priced from $499 per person and is 1.5 hours in duration. Or for the full Milford experience, book this scenic flight that actually lands in Milford Sound while you join a scenic boat cruise!

Another popular option is a 20-minute flight over Wanaka and Mt Aspiring National Park as it is priced from just $99 per person. On this flight, you will be treated to stunning views over Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, and the high and snowy Southern Alps. But for the full experience, book this scenic flight that includes a scenic hike and jet boat ride!

FYI – the main difference between investing in a helicopter flight over a fixed wing flight is that the helicopter can land in more remote areas and fly closer to the mountains.

15. Paddleboard on the lake

Paddleboarding tour on lake Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Paddle Wanaka

Why not try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding in Wanaka. You can rent boards directly from the lakefront in Wanaka or book a small group tour with a guide and take in the stunning views of the Southern Alps. If you go on your own you can choose to go further afield to Mt Aspiring National Park – here, you’ll paddleboard the remote Matukituki and Makarora Rivers.

Or if you’re more experienced, you may fancy a trip down Clutha River on your paddleboard – this river is the largest in New Zealand by water volume. I recommend hiring a guide for this as the river can be very fast-moving. The price for a guided tour is $249 per person.

16. Jet boating

Bailey from My Queenstown Diary jet boating in Queenstown
As you can tell I was a little scared!

A very popular activity in New Zealand, and one sure to get your blood pumping, is Jetboating. In Wanaka, you’ll glide through the rivers of Mt Aspiring National Park, including the Matukituki, Wilkin, and Makarora rivers – this is a great experience for the whole family.

The Wanaka Jet boat experience departs directly from Wanaka lakefront and brings you across the lake taking in the scenery there and into the Clutha River (the longest river in New Zealand). It’s here at the Clutha River that your driver will really push the boat to its limits with 180-degree and 360-degree turns.

As you speed down the narrow braided sections of the river you may feel as if you’ll crash or even hit the banks on the side, but be assured your jet boat driver is very experienced and is just trying to scare you! Prices for this start at $75 per child over 4 and adults are priced at $129 each.

Top Tip – if you don’t want to get wet, sit on the drivers side, the driver never wants to get him/herself wet!

17. Lose your mind and your way at Puzzling World

The front of Puzzling World in Wanaka
Over the years Puzzling World has become a huge place with so many attractions. Photo credit Gracethang Depositphotos

Be a kid for a few hours and bend your mind at Wanaka’s weirdest attraction. Home to the Great Maze, which is seriously hard to get out of (believe me – it took me over an hour), this maze has a whopping 1.5km (1 mi) of passages.

In Wanaka for over 40 years, Puzzling World has enough activities for you to spend half a day there. It’s a perfect rainy day activity. Another favorite thing to do of mine at Puzzling World is the Ames Room, which features a technique used in the famed Lord of the Rings film series which makes individuals appear smaller or taller than they are in real life. The technique is known as forced perspective.

Be sure to take a funny photo with the Leaning & Tumbling Towers outside Puzzling World.

Adult tickets are priced at $25 for the Combo Deal (Great Maze & all Illusion Rooms) and $18 for children over aged 5. Children under 5 are free.

Related Read: For more ideas of things to do in the rain, check out my blog about the best rainy day activities in Queenstown!

18. Hike Isthmus Peak

View from the top of Isthmus Peak, Wanaka
Isthmus Peak is much less busy but just as beautiful.

A track for advanced hikers due to its steep rocky climbs, Ithumus Peak is one to add to your Wanaka bucket list. Located 30 minutes from Wanaka, all in the hike should take you approximately 6 hours return. The total length of the track is 8 kilometers (5 miles) each way.

From Isthmus Peak Trail Small Parking (your starting point), follow the poled track until it widens to a 4WD track. From here, continue uphill to the Skyline Ridge. After the Ridge, follow the signs to your right for the Isthmus Peak Track. Once at the top you’ll swear you’re on Roy’s Peak (which is why Isthmus Peak is known as the “other Roy’s Peak”.)

Important: Isthmus Peak Track is closed every year between 20th November and 20th December for fawning.

19. Happy hour lake cruise

Cruise on Lake Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Lake Wanaka Cruises

Relax with your drink of choice and catch the evening light on the Southern Alps (an excellent photo opportunity) on an hour-long cruise on Lake Wanaka. Did I mention it’s happy hour on board the entire time! Plus, this isn’t any old boat – it’s a luxury catamaran.

Spot the famed #thatwanakatree and snap a unique photo of it from the water. From here, your captain will transport you up to Waterfall Creek and then, Ruby Island. You will also take in views across Stevensons Peninsula, Beacon Point, and Eely Point.

Remember, your ticket includes a complimentary wine or beer, but further drinks can be purchased onboard.

Prices start from $60 NZD per person.

Related Read: You can also go on a lake cruise in Queenstown!

20. Visit Stevensons Island

Stevensons Island cruise in Lake Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Lake Wanaka Cruises

This trip includes a tour of Lake Wanaka by luxury catamaran and over to Stevensons Island where you can step off the boat and explore on a short walk. You’ll be indulged in the unique history of the island which dates back to the Prohibition era.

The walk around Stevensons Island is considered easy and is suitable for both children and the elderly. On your walk around the island, spot the many native plants and birds. Stevensons Island is predator-free so it’s become a bird sanctuary. Also, be sure to get a photo of the lake from this unique vantage point.

21. Hike Mt Iron

The view from Mt Iron in Wanaka
The views from Mt Iron!

Mount Iron itself rises 250 meters (164 feet) above Wanaka township, because of this height, the summit offers rewarding 360-degree views of the Southern Alps, Lake Wanaka, and the Pisa Range. It’s a nice and short 90-minute walking track, just 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Wanaka town center.

The track begins from the car park off SH84, from here take the left fork and climb uphill on the western side to the summit. The hike down will take you to the eastern side of Mt Iron down another trail.

Despite Mt Iron being an uphill climb, it is still considered a relatively easy hike and is suitable for all hiking abilities.

22. Rock climbing and Via Ferrata

Via Ferrata Rock climbing in New Zealand
Me, on a Via Ferrata tour in Queenstown

Via Ferrata in Wanaka is a unique 5-hour climbing experience that takes visitors along a waterfall to spot hidden pools and walk across a few suspension bridges. This experience is considered to be an introduction to ‘Via Ferrata’ (also known as the ‘iron road’) method of climbing. This is a very popular experience across parts of New Zealand, especially in Queenstown!

You will use cables, pegs, iron rungs, ladders, and bridges, enabling you to climb routes otherwise inaccessible to others. Your expert guide will ensure you feel completely safe at all times and will assist you with your equipment if needed. I actually did Via Ferrata in Queenstown and loved it! We climbed so high, and although a little scary, I felt safe the entire time!

Prices for this start from $306 NZD per person.

23. Mt Aspiring Canyoning Adventure

Canyoning in Mt Aspiring National Park
Canyoning is one of the most underrated activities you can do in Wanaka!

Canyoning, for those unfamiliar with this activity, is a combination of swimming, sliding, climbing, and rappelling across a canyon. It’s certainly an experience for the adventurous but one I love and have done all around the world!

The canyoning tour in Wanaka involves a short walk to the canyon at the beginning but once here, you must abseil, climb, swim, and scramble your way through the stunning but ferocious canyon. You may even partake in a few cliff jumps (if you’re feeling brave!) Be sure to bring a waterproof camera so you can take plenty of photos!

24. Bike riding

A man sits on his mountain bike overlooking Lake Wanaka
Riding is one of the best ways to explore Wanaka

Whether you’re after a casual, scenic bike ride or a more exhilarating mountain biking experience – you will be spoiled for choice in Wanaka. There are heaps of trails accessible from Wanaka town center or a short drive away.

A firm favorite to cycle amongst locals is the Pisa Conservation Area, a 30-minute drive from central Wanaka. Here lies 22,000 hectares of gorgeous high country with views of Upper Clutha and Wakatipu basins, and even the Southern Alps!

A relatively easy track at the Pisa Conservation Area is the Circuit Track which is 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) long in total. This trail should take most people between 4 and 5 hours but is relatively easy. On this track, follow the Roaring Meg Pack Track from Tuohys Gully parking lot and on to Tuohys Saddle. This track does involve a number of river crossings but is overall suitable for all levels of expertise.

Another cool track, most commonly done on a self-guided bike tour starts at Lake Hawea and finishes back in Wanaka. On the tour, you’ll be taken by van to Lake Hawea where you’ll get out and begin your journey back. The self-guided tour takes around 4 hours and only costs $95 NZD.

Related Read: If you’re into cycling and heading to Queenstown, then check out all of the best bike trails in and around Queenstown!

25. Archery at Crossfire Wanaka

archery at Crossfire Wanaka in Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Crossfire Wanaka

Are you good enough to hit the bullseye?

At Crossfire you can shoot from a covered booth down a 15-meter (50 feet) alley and attempt to hit a target. There’s a selection of archery bows available – there’s beginner-friendly bows ideal for children or if it’s your first time. The experienced staff can give you detailed instructions before you shoot, so, you’re as confident as can be with a bow and arrow in your hand.

Children over the age of 8 are permitted to join in the fun and prices start at $25 per person for 20 minutes. Shoot as much as you like within the 20 minutes or until your arm gets sore!

26. Eat at Ode restaurant

t bone steak with shrimp on top
Tititea is the place to go for a fancy dinner! Photo credit: Tititea Steak House

There are some incredible restaurants in Wanaka, and one of the best is Tititea Steak House. At the excellent fine dining Tititea, is the Maori name for Mt Aspiring, referring to how their meats are a cut above, just like the mountain range out the window cuts through the clouds. It is considered to be the best steak house in Wanaka and is one of the top 3 overall restaurants as voted by the community in recent years.

When you go, make sure to try the slow-roasted Te Mana lamb shoulder, it’s their specialty! It’s rather pricey at $65 NDZ but it’s large enough to share with your date if you so choose.

If you want to try a hands-on experience you can choose your desired cut of meat to be brought to your table along with a 400-degree stone. All you have to do is slice it to whatever thickness you want and cook it until it reaches the level of doneness you like. The stone grill options all include a side.

27. Watch a movie at Cinema Paradiso

view of the outside of Cinema Paradiso in Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso has to be the cutest cinema in all of New Zealand! This small cinema in the center of Wanaka has just 3 screens and every movie shown here has an intermission just like the good old days (not that I ever experienced them!)

It’s not your ‘regular’ cinema though. At Cinema Paradiso instead of regular rows of seats, they are a selection of comfy sofas, leather armchairs, and even a vintage car that you can sit in to enjoy the movie.

Halfway through, the movie stops and there’s a short intermission. Adorable! You can head out to the café and grab a warm cookie, hot chocolate, or even a beer. Whatever takes your fancy, then, take it back to your comfy sofa and enjoy the second half of your movie.

Worth noting is that seating is “unallocated” at Cinema Paradiso, so, if you arrive early you get the pick of the comfiest couches and chairs.

Adult tickets cost $16.50 NZD, seniors $13.00, students $15.00, and youth $10.00.

Related Read: Just an hour from Wanaka is Queenstown. Here, you’ll also find a boutique cinema along with lots of other indoor activities to choose from in Queenstown.

28. Get your speed on at Highlands Motorsport Park

Drive a Ferrari at Highlands Motorsport Park in Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Highlands – Experience the Exceptional

Highlands Motorsport Park is in fact located in the nearby town of Cromwell, about a 40-minute drive from Wanaka. At Highlands, there are high-speed Go-Karts, the unique Highlands Taxi experience, and you can even drive a Porsche or Ferrari around the custom-built track! It’s definitely one of the most exciting things to do in Wanaka!

The Highlands Taxi is not your typical taxi ride, that’s for sure. If you don’t feel confident driving a Porsche Cayenne yourself, then this experience is perfect for you. For this activity, a driver will take you quickly (and safely) around the custom-built track.

And if you’re simply going along to Highlands with your speed-loving friend or partner and don’t fancy joining in any of the high-speed activities, then there’s a lovely Sculpture Park on-site, a Motorsport Museum, and a café serving hot and cold delights.

Prices depend on the experience you choose. Museum Entry is priced at $30 NZD per adult, go-karting is $49 for a 10-minute session (single or tandem), Highlands Taxi costs $129 for up to 4 people, and Supercar Fast Dash is priced at $179 per person.

After enjoying Highlands, why not check out some of the other awesome things to do in Cromwell. This town is often overlooked by tourists, which is a shame since there’s plenty to do and see!

29. Go mountain-carting at Cardrona

Mountain Carts at Cardona Alpine Resort in, Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Cardona Alpine Resort

This is New Zealand’s only mountain carting experience and it’s available during the summer months. It’s certainly one for the adrenalin-lovers among you, I have experienced this myself, and believe me, the cart’s appearance may fool you – these things go FAST! This is, in my opinion, definitely one of the best things to do in Wanaka!

You do need to be careful on the Cardrona mountain carts, I’ve had quite a few friends sustain minor injuries on them from going around the tight corners of the track too fast. The carts at Cardrona are purpose-built in Germany. They have 3 wheels, are low-to-the-ground, and two hydraulic disc brakes. Cardrona has three mountain carting trails to choose from – be aware, that some trails may be closed on the day you are there.

Your session runs for an awesome 2 hours and prices are $135 NZD for an adult and $75 for a child aged between 8-14 years. Please note, any children looking to mountain cart should measure above 100cm (3.3′).

30. Eat at the food trucks in Wanaka

Burrito Craft food truck stationed at Wanaka, New Zealand
Photo credit: Burrito Craft

The foodie scene in Wanaka is home to a number of food trucks dotted across the town. Tucked away on 51 Brownstone Street is a little food truck park with several food trucks permanently located here. There are a couple of picnic-style benches too so you can enjoy your food on-site.

Fast food with a difference is how I like to describe it. Some of my favorites here include:

Burrito Craft – serving up yummy Mexican fare including burritos and enchiladas. The portions here are huge!

Firebird – KFC-style fried chicken burgers or their “hot boxes” which include fries and dip.

Dripping Bowl – is 100% refined sugar-free, it also has a host of choices for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarians, and vegans.

31. Play in the snow at the Snow Farm

Cross country skiing
I much prefer downhill skiing, but it’s a great workout!

Cross country skiing at the Snow Farm in Cardrona is a great introduction to the sport because included in the price you get a one-hour lesson for beginners. After, the lesson which happens daily at 10:30 am, you are free to explore the cross-country trails on your own. A full day is priced from $99 NZD, this allows you 7 hours in total on the trails – not bad value if you ask me!

Of course, as the name suggests, this experience is only open during the winter months (June to September.) With that said, it’s ideal for the whole family, especially for the very little ones, because if I’m honest there isn’t a whole lot for your tiny tots to enjoy in the adventure haven that is Wanaka. At the Snow Farm, you can build a snowman, make snow angels, and throw snowballs.

Also at the Snow Farm is the Tubing Hill. Luckily, your Snow Fun Zone Pass includes the use of the tubes. Due to limited numbers of tubes, during busy times you may need to share your tube with others. This is so everyone can get a turn.

Prices are from $17 per person for a day pass to the Snow Fun Zone (for both children and adults.)

Related Read: On a budget? There are lots of free and cheap things to do in Wanaka too!

Where to Stay in Wanaka

A view of the town of Wanaka, New Zealand
The beautiful town of Wanaka

There are tons of places to stay in Wanaka. Seriously, you’ll have so many options that it can be overwhelming. Luckily, I’ve stayed in Wanaka countless times and can recommend the below accommodation options:

Hawea Hotel – This is the perfect budget option for anybody looking to save a few dollars. Although really comfortable, clean, and offering incredible views, Hawea Hotel is super affordable with budget dorms rooms as well as double rooms and family rooms. It is likely the best value for money hotel in Wanaka!

Manuka Crescent Motel – When I travel, I often like to stay in apartment-style hotels so that I can cook my own meals. Manuka Crescent Motel offers studio apartments, one-bedroom apartments, as well as two-bedroom apartments for really reasonable prices. These are great for families or people traveling in groups (I stayed here last time I traveled with friends.) The motel is located a only short drive from town in a peaceful area.

Club Wyndham Wanaka – If you’re visiting Wanaka to relax and spoil yourself, then there’s no question that you should stay at Club Wyndham! This hotel is located right in town only minutes from Lake Wanaka and features an outdoor heat pool, waterslide, hot tub, sauna, and an onsite bar and cafe! All rooms come with a kitchenette or full kitchen, and many offer lake views!

You can also choose from a huge selection of Airbnbs and bach holiday home rentals in Wanaka. These are typically better for groups or a family traveling together. Or, simply anybody who wants to have their own kitchen!

For more detailed information, check out my blog all about where to stay in Wanaka! It includes different areas to stay in and the best hotels for all budgets!

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

A motorhome by the beach
Me and my trusty campervan!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It is what most budget backpackers get for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (DTRAVEL5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
  • Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one, you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!

Thanks for reading!

A lady sits in the snow at Roy's peak
Thanks for reading from Roy’s Peak!

In Wanaka and the surrounding area, there truly is no shortage of amazing things to do. Those were 31 of the best things to do and I’m sure you’ll agree that Wanaka is an exciting place to explore.

Thanks so much for reading my guide to the best things to do in Wanaka. If you found this blog helpful, then browse around, I have so many more articles about Wanaka, Queenstown, and more! I’ve also added a few posts down below that I think you’re going to like.

South Island road trips in New Zealand

Free and cheap things to do in Christchurch

Best hikes in New Zealand


Friday 7th of April 2023

Hi Bailey:

My name is Chen from Brisbane, Australia. My husband and I are going to New Zealand next month, and I have just read your article"31 Best Things to do in Wanaka, New Zealand" in your block "My Queenstown diary". I have noticed that the first photo of the article ( you were standing on the big stone in the lake) was very beautiful, and I was wondering if it is possible that you could tell me where did you take the photo. Your article is an essential travel guide for me; thank you very much, and I cannot wait to see your beautiful country. Have a lovely Easter long weekend. Kind regards



Thursday 20th of April 2023

Hey Qain,

That place is called Beacon Point.

So glad you like the blog!

Enjoy Wanaka Bailey