lake wanaka

Wanaka is one of the most jaw droppingly scenic locations in New Zealand and is located around 1 hour from Queenstown. During Winter the small town of Wanaka transforms into a bustling base for New Zealand's Ski Season. Both the Kiwi Experience and Stray New Zealand hop on hop off buses stop over in Wanaka and it is a great place to stop if you are venturing throughout New Zealand by car or campervan. Whether you are planning on spending a few nights here, or you are just stopping by for the afternoon – here are my top 10 things to do in Wanaka!

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 $199 to $399 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. 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. Paddle Wanaka offer everything from guided kayak tours, morning SUP Yoga classes, SUP rentals, Kayak rentals and more!

3. Walk to the top of Mt Iron

We all love free things! The walk will take you about 2 hours return from Base Backpackers 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.

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. 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 may have 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 illusions 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. Canyoning

Canyoning is an amazing day out that includes numerous adventurous activities in it including abseiling down waterfalls, slides, jumps, swimming and incredible scenery. Treat yourself to a full 8 hour day out in Wanaka for $450. Canyoning New Zealand has trips near Wanaka and Queenstown of various lengths depending on how much time and money you have to spare. Find out more here.

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 back to your childhood, as well as rare, unusual and vintage aircraft, cars, trucks, fire engines, military vehicles and more. Entry is just $17.

Planning a visit to Wanaka? Book your accommodation at Base Wanaka here and ask the staff about other Wanaka activities.
Travelling New Zealand? Read our Complete Backpacking Guide to New Zealand here!