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Wanaka 7 glorious reasons to visit New Zealand’s lake district, what to do and best things to see travel guide

  • 5 minutes

LAKES, WATERWAYS, RESORT URBAN GLOSS VERSUS WILD RAW NATURE

Scenery, wild remote places where the only footprints are yours contrasted with the polished hospitality of a resort town. Resort town Wanaka ticks the visitor boxes for many people. Wanaka is internationally famous for its over instagrammed mountain, Roys Peak. That takes some doing with millions of outstretched arms backdropped against a striking landscape. Plus it looks scary, is the person going to plummet off the mountain. Wanaka’s charms are year round, summer magic and winter wonderland of iced peaks and power snow for skiers.

Wanaka @cdeinet

THE STAR OF THE SHOW – SCENERY & GUIDES & TOUR OPERATORS

Wanaka is packed with tour operators offering exhilarating adventure options from high wire balancing past waterfalls to adrenaline laced rock climbing. Equipment for skiing, summer sports or active outdoor pursuits adds up. Who doesn’t want to SUP or kayak to a marine reserve and picnic on a remote beach. The idea of jet boating to a quiet place to fish feels like heaven or an expensive way to fish. Glorious scenery is free, it is what to do while in Wanaka that costs. Wanaka offers airborne heights where you land on a glacier or the wild calls with horse trekking or 4WD into the pristine alpine landscapes.

Wanaka @timmarshall

There are professional guides specialising in almost everything outdoors from fly fishing, hunting, tramping and hiking and experts on the flora and fauna. There are guides to support equipment hire offer services from the best time to go and where to go to match your skill levels. Perhaps the idea of paying for a private jet boat tour to a supreme fishing spot is your idea of heaven then Wanaka is the place to be. Superb hospitality and experienced guides who know their home and backyard inside out.

HERE IS A GUIDE TO SOME OF THE BEST TOUR OPERATORS IN WANAKA

1
CALLING ALL ADRENALINE JUNKIES – ADVENTURE WANAKA STYLE

WILDWIRE WANAKA offer

The photo says it all. Sheer height, a definite you did it moment … plus the view is amazing if you can take your white gripped knuckles off the rope long enough for a photo op.

DEEP CANYON

Just jump, just scramble and plunge into cool (perhaps a tad freezing) crystal water where the ages have polished the chutes ready for you to abseil down the waterfalls. You are in a world where water, wind and the elements crafted the ultimate natural adventure course. From beginners (family groups) to the experienced rock canyon buffs you are always accompanied by an accredited guide.

Deep Canyon Wanaka @ Lake Wanaka Tourism

SKYDIVE WANAKA offer

The thought of stepping out into air, no problem you don’t need to think about it as some else will just take you strapped to them. Skydive in one of New Zealand’s made for this adventure landscapes and please stop screaming in the guide’s ear.

WANAKA PARAGLIDING offer

Not keen on the free fall from a plane, how about tandem paragliding from Treble Cone Mountain floating on the currents as you pivot through the thermals to the lake.

Wanaka paragliding @Vincent Branciforti
2
MOUNTAINS, LAKES AND RIVERS

The drawcard for the district is nature. The Southern Alps magic together the majesty of snow capped peaks, reflective lights in deep azure lakes, pristine forests and the cheeky kea parrot. World class landscapes on a par with the best of Europe and North America. It could even be said that the remote wild elemental landscapes forever untamed by human endeavour have created a special corner of the world. Aotearoa New Zealand is the custodian of the wild places and visitors agree. It’s amazing.

Check our articles on Lake Hawea: easy short walks and Wanaka free things to do for inspiration on where to go outdoors and outside. Wanaka’s official visitor online resource has created a handy map showing the best places for photographs, to soak up the views or take a selfie. Check travel pack information for the maps.

Wanaka @Mike Swigunski

ECO WANAKA ADVENTURES offer

Will take the hassle out of exploring nature. Whether it is the glaciers of Mt Aspiring National Park or a helicopter flights to lakes or a cruise to Mou Waho Island with its’ “Lake on top of an Island”  Unique and naturally unforgettable tours

Mou Waho, Wanaka @nzrhan
3
EXERCISE, MUSCLE POWER TO GET AROUND

BIKING

Central Otago Southern Lakes is the venue for the toughest competitive sports events and incredible bike parks are now a stone’s throw from Wanaka and Lake Hawea leaving no excuse not to hop on the bike for a spin. Bike hire is easy with a number of operators.

WANAKA BIKE TOURS offer

A guided tour doesn’t mean cycling shortcuts, rather the hassle is taken out of finding the best routes. There are options from a fully guided tour, mountain biking tours and heli biking trips for all fitness levels and skills. Remember to ask about family packages.

Mountain biking @Lake Wanaka Tourism
Mountain biking @Release Wanaka
4
RIVERS, LAKES AND WATER

Braided rivers, lakes inviting visitors to get on the water create the perfect outdoor water activities holiday for active families and friends.

Mou Waho Island

In the lake, protected by the deep waters is a nature reserve. The inquisitive flightless weka greets visitors. Weka’s with their curious nature are almost always on show.

For self-guided walks catch the WANAKA WATERTAXI.

Wanaka, New Zealand @stuartdavies Wanaka @stuartdavies

ECO WANAKA ADVENTURES offer guided tours

Paddle Wanaka hires kayaks and SUP to explore the lake. There is the option of guided tours for visitors.

Paddle Wanaka hires kayaks @mattcoin
5
HORSE TREKKING & 4WD OFF-ROAD TOURS

GLEN DENE STATION offer

Spend a day on a working high country station with third generation custodians of the land. You will meet the hardy merino sheep, the mainstay of farming life in the region. There are beehives with the popular mountain honey, a sweet treat. There are options from 4WD safaris where visitors can observe the wildlife. The wildlife ranges from tahr, chamois, wild deer, rabbits, red stags, geckos and skinks including the endangered Grand Skink. Birdlife flourishes too, with kahu (Australasian harrier), tauhou (silvereye) and piwakawaka (fantail). Horse trekking on a working farm adds to the sense of what the place means to the locals. A perfect way to spend the day on horseback is with someone whose heart belongs in the high country.

Horse trekking Wanaka @Lake Wanaka Tourism
Wanaka Horse Riding @Lake Wanaka Tourism

RIDGELINE ADVENTURES offer

Nothing like a private 4WD tour going where you want and stopping for as long as you want to get into the spirit of adventure. Go to places where tracks are few and far between and immerse yourself in the majesty of the high country.

Ridgeline Adventures @Cardrona Outfitters
6
HELICOPTER PICNICS – FISHING, DOING YOUR THING

ALPINE HELICOPTERS offer

How about the thrill of a helicopter picnic, it’s sensational being whisked to a stunning location where silver service is part of the deal. Fly fishing comes with heli rides to the fishing sweet spots complete with snacks and the chance to BBQ your catch over hot stones. Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka have pampering down to a fine art. It’s where wild meets indulgence.

@alpineheli
@alpineheli
7
FISHING IS YOUR THING

ALPINE FISHING GUIDES offer

Walk the braided rivers, wade into quiet tributaries, or perhaps drift or boat fishing as relaxing change from the typical wading fish experience. Alpine Fishing Guides has been in operation since 1996 and by Greg Dougherty and his wife Paula since 2002.Offering guided fishing trips in the Wanaka region on the South Island of New Zealand for wild Brown and Rainbow trout. There is nothing like a passionate local to know the best spots to fish.

@Wanaka fishing

TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION

Wanaka photographic location (source Wanaka visitor online resource) maps

Unique journeys deserve special occasions

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