Wanaka is more than just a stopover, and in my eyes, a chilled out version of Queenstown. Kiwi Experience and Stray both spend a night in this scenic town. Whether you are planning on spending a few nights here, or you are just stopping by for the afternoon – here’s what we recommend! NOTE: In NO particular order!
1. Aerobatic Flight
This is possibly one of the scariest things I have ever done and the views of Lake Wanaka are stunning! Learn how to fly a plane with a 2 X national aerobatic champion as you zoom over Wanaka. Packages range from $149 to $299 depending on your comfort levels. Opt for a more relaxed, scenic flight lesson for you and one other person, or learn how to barrel roll and flip a 2 seater purposely built aerobatic plane – amazing!
2. Walk to the top of Mt Iron
We all love free things! The walk will take you about 2 hours return from Base Wanaka and will reward you with 360 degree views of Lake Wanaka. The walk is moderately easy but there are a few loose rocks coming down so ensure that you wear sturdy shoes. TIP: Start from the Puzzling World entrance to make the most of the scenery on the way down.
3. Paddleboard & Kayak
Lake Wanaka is one of the most tranquil and scenic lakes in New Zealand, surrounded by huge mountains that cast a painting like background. It is also one of the cheapest places in New Zealand to hire a Paddleboard or Kayak and packages can be arranged to suit your needs: morning Yoga lessons on a stand up paddleboard for $35 (from September to April), hire a paddleboard for $20, hire a kayak for 2 hours and head out for a BBQ on Ruby Island for just $40 or ask the friendly staff to drop you off at Point A as you make your way back to the beach.
4. Indoor Rock Climbing
Fun for everyone – whether you are a beginner to rock climbing or an expert. Base Camp Wanaka is an adult adventure theme park. Try your hand at Bouldering, practice your skills on the advanced wall, or race your friends up the Clip n Go Wall. Entry is only $20 plus $5 for shoes. It will take you about 40 minutes to walk there. My tip: hire a bike for $25 and make the most of your afternoon. The cycle will take just 10 minutes from town.
5. Roy's Peak Hiking Trail
You have probably seen a photo getting around on Instagram from the top of Roy's Peak - there's no doubt that the top of the mountain provides one of the best photo ops in NZ. Allow around 5 to 6 hours return to reach the summit of Roy Mountain from Lake Wanaka. The track begins 6km from the town centre of Lake Wanaka at the Roys Peak Track carpark. More info here.
6. Explore Lake Wanaka by Bike
Bike Riding is one of my favourite ways to explore new destinations – it is cheap and easy! Bike hire is around $20 to $30 for half day rental and can be arranged by the staff at Base Wanaka. The lake front has a bike track that will lead you from one side of the lake to the other. The track is flat terrain so great for all levels. I suggest riding to Eely Point for a secluded beach experience or to Waterfall Creek for a rainforesty feel. If you are keen on Mountain Biking, there are loads of tracks for all levels just a short ride from Base.
7. Puzzling World
Bizarre, cheap and great for a hangover! A tricky maze, rooms full of illusion and abstract and mind baffling buildings. Entry is cheap and Puzzling World is just a 15 minute walk from Base reception.
8. Skydive Wanaka
Voted by one of our Base veterans as the best exit point in New Zealand. With Skydive Wanaka you will gain views of the Southern Alps, New Zealand’s tallest mountain Mt Cook, World Heritage Mt Aspiring National Park, Glaciers, Lakes & Lord of the Rings Country from 15,000ft!
9. Have A Shot
Golf, Driving Range, Claybird shooting, Mini Golf, Archery, Cropool (a giant sized cross between pool and croquet) & Rifle Ranges: don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! I’ve recently fell in love with the sport of shooting and it is definitely worth trying at least once in your life. Activities range from $5 to $50.
10. National Toy & Transport Museum
Sounds geeky but there is so much to see and do here! You will find vintage toys that will take you on a nostalgic trip through to your childhood, as well as rare, unusual and vintage aircraft, cars, trucks, fire engines, military vehicles and more. Entry is just $17.
For more information chat to staff at Base Wanaka Reception - they will be able to help you with any travel tips and ideas.
Heading to Wanaka in Ski Season? You may like our guide to the Queenstown and Wanaka Ski Season here.