Things to do in
Wanaka

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Our most recommended things to do in Wanaka

Wanaka: Combo Entry to Puzzling World

1. Wanaka: Combo Entry to Puzzling World

Welcome to Wanaka's wonderful world of weirdness with an admission ticket to Puzzling World. Upon arrival, be met with the famous Tumbling Towers and The Leaning Tower of Wanaka, which offers great photo opportunities as friends or family appear to hold, push, or rip out the tower, foundations and all. Then, head into the Puzzle Centre, where dozens of puzzles await the curious and a massive kaleidoscope ceiling looks on from above, is a visual treat in itself. Encouraging problem solving, exercise and fun, the modern maze format with over-bridges and underpasses has created the world’s first truly 3-D Great Maze. The Illusion Rooms are sure to challenge reality as 5 unique rooms, along with ever-changing “walls of wonder”, exhibitions and the latest displays will leave you thinking “what the..?!” Outside, The Great Maze encourages problem-solving, exercise, and fun. Puzzling World invented this format, designed to suit all ages with over-bridges and underpasses to create the world’s first 3-dimensional maze. Don’t worry, emergency exits for those with limited time, patience, or energy are also built into the maze. With so many incredible things to see and do here, make sure to allow plenty of time for your unforgettable visit to Puzzling World.

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Stevensons Island 2-Hour Cruise and Nature Walk

2. Stevensons Island 2-Hour Cruise and Nature Walk

Embark on a leisurely 40-minute cruise among spectacular mountain scenery to Stevensons Peninsula and then into Stevensons Arm, home to the Mount Burke high country sheep station. Rolling green pastures precede Mount Gold and Mount Burke which rise majestically into the Eastern skyline. Relax in comfort as you cruise to Stevensons Island for a beach landing. Your guide will take you ashore via the front loading ramp for a short hike to the summit of the Island. Stevensons Island is an inspiration for photographers. On return, complete your experience with afternoon tea and another 40-minute scenic cruise back to the Wanaka waterfront.

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Wanaka: Jet Boat Ride on Clutha River

3. Wanaka: Jet Boat Ride on Clutha River

Experience the water like never have before on a jet boat adventure in Wanaka. Skim across shallow water, over sand bars, through rapids, and around rocks at speeds in excess of 80 kilometers per hour. Departing from Wanaka’s waterfront, enjoy a short jaunt across the lake taking in stunning snow-capped mountain views, and prepare to enter one of the world’s swiftest-flowing rivers, the Clutha River.  Of course, a jet boat ride wouldn’t be complete without the iconic Hamilton Spin, a high-speed maneuver causing the boat to spin rapidly on the spot. Your expert driver will raise your adrenalin, demonstrating the maneuverability of the jet boat and pushing it to its absolute limits, safely and skillfully navigating you on an unforgettable adventure.

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Wanaka: Tandem Skydive Experience 9,000, 12,000 or 15,000-ft

4. Wanaka: Tandem Skydive Experience 9,000, 12,000 or 15,000-ft

Skydiving is a must-do and Wanaka is the most stunning place to tick it off your bucket list. Admire some of New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery and picturesque landscapes as you freefall from above at 200kph. Your experience starts when you walk in the door and meet the awesome frontline crew. Receive a full briefing and gear up. Before you know it, you’ll be meeting your tandem instructor and climbing into the plane for the incredible scenic flight to altitude. During your 20-minute flight over the Southern Alps, your instructor will point out Mt. Cook, Mt. Aspiring, the Southern Alps, a number of lakes and the Clutha River. Once you’ve reached your chosen altitude, it’s time to leap. Experience the pure adrenaline rush of freefalling at 200kph above the stunning Central Otago landscape. After 25 to 60-seconds of freefall, catch your breath and enjoy the smooth flight under canopy safely back down to the drop zone. Back on the ground, tears of joy, smiles, hugs and fist pumps are all the norm. Make your way back to the hanger to be de-geared then await your edited video and photos. Once your video is done plug it into the computer, gather around your friends and family and relive the moments all over again.

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From Wanaka: Ruby Island 1-Hour Cruise and Photo Walk

5. From Wanaka: Ruby Island 1-Hour Cruise and Photo Walk

Take a relaxing cruise out to Ruby Island and enjoy a guided walk of the island with many incredible photo opportunities. The grade is easy, suitable for children and seniors. A luxury catamaran will guide you ashore on Ruby Island via a hydraulic bow ramp. Discover the intriguing history dating back to the days of prohibition. Often called the jewel of Wanaka, Ruby is small but very photogenic. The eclectic mix of exotic and native plants adds a foreground to the colors of the lake and the mountains behind. After your walk, return to the vessel for the short cruise back to the Wanaka waterfront.

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Wanaka: Self Guided Bike Tour from Lake Hawea to Lake Wanaka

6. Wanaka: Self Guided Bike Tour from Lake Hawea to Lake Wanaka

Get the most bang for your buck as you experience the most popular of any bike trip in Wanaka. Start your journey in Wanaka Town center where you will meet the experienced team to get you fitted for your equipment and receive a comprehensive safety briefing. Then, enjoy a leisurely shuttle from downtown Wanaka to the neighboring lakeside town of Hawea. Feel free to grab a coffee from a local cafe before setting out on the Hawea River Track, an easy riverside amble set in mountainous surroundings. Pass by Albert Town, where there are a few places to grab a refreshment, before continuing along the mighty Clutha River towards its source at Lake Wanaka. A picturesque lakeside trail will lead you back to Wanaka township, where ice cream and the famous Wanaka Tree await. After arriving back to Wanaka, extend your ride with a visit to Rippon Vineyard at your leisure. This is an exceptional ride offering great value for money. Upgrade your trip to an e-bike for an easier ride.

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Lake Wanaka Happy Hour Cruise

7. Lake Wanaka Happy Hour Cruise

Set off on a 1-hour cruise on Lake Wanaka to enjoy crystal-clear waters and beautiful scenery. The perfect end to a great day or the perfect beginning to a great night. Cruise down the Wanaka waterfront and over toward the famous Lone Tree before tracking up to Waterfall Creek and Ruby Island. Head across to Stevensons Peninsula before returning via Beacon Point and Eley Point. Don't forget to bring your camera and take pictures while cruising to remember this relaxing experience.  As you cruise along, enjoy a local wine or beer on your cruise, included in the ticket. The cruise is fully licensed and further drinks can be purchased on board.

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Wanaka: Water Taxi & Mou Waho Island Tour

8. Wanaka: Water Taxi & Mou Waho Island Tour

Hop aboard a comfortable water taxi and make your way to Mou Waho Island. Along the way, your tour guide will explain the island's unique geology and history. Of the Lake Wanaka’s 5 islands, Mou Waho is the most remote and the most beautiful. Once there, you will have 1.5 hours to yourself to enjoy this special place. Hike 20 minutes to the island’s hidden lake. Created by glacial action thousands of years ago, this secluded lake contains an island itself. This island is known as the “island on a lake, on an island on a lake on an island in the sea.” (Close your eyes and visualize that for a moment). Walk 5 minutes from the hidden lake to reach Tyrwhitt Peak, the highest point on the island. From the top of the peak take in the luscious panorama of lakes and jagged peaks. Witness the diverse bird life of this predator-free nature reserve. See the elegant kereru (wood Pidgeon), the adorable korimako (bellbird), the delightful Tomtit, and the Weka. Wekas are charismatic birds that disappeared from the mainland of New Zealand but were introduced to these islands as a part of a breeding program in 2002. When you spot one, stop and say hello. These birds are particularly charismatic and cheeky characters and are often attracted to human interaction. Relax on the island’s small sheltered beach. Cool off with a swim in the waters of Lake Wanaka before taking the water taxi back to Wanaka.

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Wanaka: 1.5-hour Beginner Iron Road Waterfall Climb

9. Wanaka: 1.5-hour Beginner Iron Road Waterfall Climb

Enjoy a thrilling 1.5-hour introduction to ‘via ferrata’ or ‘iron road’ climbing. This unique experience uses cable, iron rungs, pegs, bridges, and ladders, allowing you to climb routes that may not have been accessible otherwise.  Start your journey in Wanaka town center where you will meet your friendly and experienced guides. Embark on a short 20-minute ride in a minibus through the stunning countryside around Wanaka, to the location of The Twin Falls Waterfalls. After a safety briefing, grab your helmets and harness and prepare for a practice climb over a small rock at the base of the waterfall. Once you have mastered the practice route, join an intimate group of no more than 4 people per guide - ensuring your safety throughout the experience. After a short walk up to the cliffs, the real fun begins. On this beginner route, spend approximately 1 hour scaling vertical and horizontal rock climbs, crossing suspension bridges over pools and discovering hidden waterfalls. At the end of this trail, take the opportunity to stop for a small snack and drink, admiring the stunning panoramic views over farmland, mountains, and Lake Wanaka. If you feel like you're climbing journey is over, begin a 20-minute descent back down the mountain to the base of the waterfall. Your wonderful guides will assist you with your equipment and drive you back to Wanaka Town Centre in the minibus.

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Wanaka: Mount Burke 4x4 Explorer and Boat Tour

10. Wanaka: Mount Burke 4x4 Explorer and Boat Tour

Climb aboard a water taxi and cross Lake Wanaka towards the head of Stevenson’s arm. Gaze at the constantly changing vista of steep walls and alpine peaks. Learn about the fascinating history of this area devoid of people. Venture past Stevenson’s Island and disembark at the foot of Mount Burke. Board a 4x4 vehicle with your guide, and climb high above the lake. Take in the expansive panorama of crystal clear water and the rugged summits of Mount Aspiring National Park. Breathe in the quiet solitude of Wanaka. Hear stories of the early settlers who sought farmland, gold, and a better life in New Zealand. Enjoy a gourmet open-air picnic. Choose between a morning tea menu of fruit and muffins with tea and coffee, or an afternoon menu of fruit, cheese and crackers and local wine (red, white, or rose). Of course, you can choose to have wine in the morning, coffee in the afternoon, or to enjoy a non-alcoholic beverage. The choice is yours.

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What people are saying about Wanaka

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 113 reviews

This was a great way to spend half a day. I did it solo and it was wonderful to have time at the lake and at the lookout all to myself. You really do feel like nobody else is around (even though you see the odd person travelling up or down the trail path). The views are breathtaking and you get an excellent workout hiking up to the lookout. You also learn about the geology and history of the island and Wanaka generally on the way out to the island. A little tip - bring insect repellent with you and wear closed shoes and socks as there are sandflies on the island. You do need a moderate level of fitness to hike to the top as it is intense in places and some parts of the path are very rocky but it all adds to the experience!

Our group had no climbing experience and was a bit nervous. Katie, our guide, was supportive and encouraging and made us feel brave and kept us safe. This activity was challenging but the huge sense of achievement was so worth it and the views were spectacular.

Great trip to the island by water taxi. Shiloh was a great skipper who was very knowledgeable about the history of the area. And the island and lake on top are truly amazing, scenery is breathtaking!

Loved the passionate, knowledgeable and easy going tour guide, Charlie. Skipper, Crystal got us safely there and back. Magnificent day, well worth it.

Fabulous cruise, the guide gave us a lot of information on the local area and the wine and cheeseboard was delicious