The alpine village of Wanaka sits on the shores of the third largest lake in the Queenstown Lakes District and is surrounded by the southern alps. Wanaka draws those seeking adventure, spectacular scenery and a relaxed atmosphere.
During winter the town's population more than triples as snow sports enthusiasts flock to the local ski fields of Treble Cone and Cardrona. Known as the gateway to the Mt Aspiring National Park, Wanaka is a walker's paradise of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys. For those seeking an adrenaline rush try skydiving, rock-climbing, jet boating or choose a scenic flight over Wanaka in a historic Tiger Moth aeroplane.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lying close to the centre of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. A unique glacial remnant of the last ice age, the island is also the historic site of early shipbuilding and used to be a stopping place for the steamers and log rafts that once plied the lake. Accessible from Wanaka by a 35-minute boat cruise, the landing is on the eastern side of the island where the remnants of the early settlement remain; a stone wharf and a hut. A well-formed track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native bush to near the top of Tyrwhitt Peak. Just before the top, we see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with small islands in it - very intriguing! From the top, we have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and below Arethusa Pool. The perfect spot to stop for tea or coffee. Going back down the track gives us more time to take in our surroundings, listening to and watching the lively bird-life, and just enjoying this unique wildlife reserve. You will feel well rewarded as you re-join the boat for the cruise back to Wanaka. Total cruise time is 1.5 hours. The trip runs subject to weather and lake conditions. Depending on the planting season, you can help The Reforestation of Mou Waho by planting a tree.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Siberia Experience with Southern Alps Air
The Siberia Experience is a 4 hour wilderness adventure in Mt. Aspiring National Park. Leaving from Makarora at the head of Lake Wanaka you will enjoy some of New Zealand's untouched scenery from the air, on land and from the water. Mountains, rivers, glaciers, alpine lakes, rain forest, waterfalls and more - this is your chance to see it all. This unique adventure incorporates a 25 minute unforgettable scenic flight with Southern Alps Air, a 2 1/2 hour walk beginning in the remote Siberia Valley in Mt. Aspiring National Park and a 30 minute exciting Jet Boat ride with Wilkin River Jets.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wanaka River Journeys Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk
The Matukituki River is one of New Zealand's great jet boating rivers. Powerful and braided, the Matukituki flows from the glaciers and mountains of the Mount Aspiring National Park, part of Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area. Travel past Lord of The Rings film locations beneath stunning views of Mount Aspiring and Glaciers on this half day, glacier focused jet boat journey. During several photo stops on the river, learn from your guide how this amazing landscape was carved by ice and of Maori heritage special to this area. Deep in the mountains, disembark for a 50 minute wilderness walk into native beech forest, beneath the towering mountains and waterfalls of the Matukituki Valley. This is a great introduction to the New Zealand wilderness while walking easy terrain suitable for people of all ages.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wild Hills 4WD Safari with Ridgeline Adventures
Experience the rugged beauty and solitude of the spectacular high country, bordering a World Heritage Area with this exclusive 4WD journey exploring the private farm tracks on an historic Wanaka sheep, cattle and deer station. From the site of Nehenehe, an ancient Maori settlement abandoned in the 1830’s, to the ruins of one of Wanaka’s first European settler’s farmhouses (1880’s). This journey offers an unique insight into Wanaka’s rich history, heritage and modern-day farming life. This trip is a photographers dream.