Lake Wanaka is located in the South Island of New Zealand in the Otago region and is the fourth largest lake in the country. It is the largest of a number of glacially carved lakes in the area and lies at the start of Mount Aspiring National Park with 2,000 meter mountain peaks dramatically rising up along the lake's western shores. The town of Wanaka only has a few thousand people but is quickly growing as a favorite spot for retirees and the population swells up during the warmer months due to the beauty of the surrounding areas making it a popular spot with tourists. Think about it sort of like Queenstown but with a more relaxing atmosphere that makes it a wonderful vacation spot because of Lake Wanaka along with the surrounding mountains, rivers, and lakes.
Enjoy the diverse geography by taking in all the sights with a helicopter ride over Lake Wanaka, skydiving out of a plane, or taking a gander at Mount Aspiring which tops out at 3,033 meters, making it the highest peak in New Zealand outside of the Aoraki-Mt Cook region. This is a region where mother nature went wild, carving out some of the most glorious ski runs in the country and where beautiful views force themselves on you around every corner. Taking a jetboat up one of the rivers around Lake Wanaka is an awesome ride that quickly gets you a taste of the wonderful geography while having a blast in the shallow waters of these snow-fed streams.
Even with its small population Wanaka offers up some quite interesting and unique things to do for all kinds of visitors. One of the most unique attractions in the town is Stuart Landborough’s Puzzling World, which offers jigsaw puzzles, a maze, some unique Roman toilets, and other strange exhibits. Cinema Paradiso is meant to feel like an old style drive-in movie theater, where you can choose from a couch or car to sit in, complete with an intermission where they serve tasty homemade ice cream and cookies. For the kids, making a stop at the National Transport and Toy Museum is an afternoon that can't be missed, with bicycles, fire engines, and other fun things to enjoy. There is also the Wanaka Beerworks, serving up tasty local brews next to the airport and Have A Shot which is a shooting range along with a mini golf course.
For people more interested in outdoor activities, it should be noted that in Lake Wanaka the limit is only your imagination with biking, hiking, skiing, and boating being just some of the most popular things to do. There is 4 international level ski fields in the area including cross-country skiing at Snow Farm and some of the best ski terrain in the country at Treble Cone. Take to the rivers with white-water rafting, jetboating, canyoning, fishing, or go horseback riding along the banks. There is plenty of great walks, hikes, or for the bravest - climbing up to the top of Mount Aspiring to slowly take in the views.
The Wanaka area is most renowned for the beautiful lake and the world class ski fields with gorgeous views. Some other fun things to check out are Cardrona Adventure Park which has ATVs and monster trucks to drive, Rippon Vineyard which is great for a tasty pinot noir, and Warbirds And Wheels which is an interesting museum with visual art along with the classic cars and aircraft. Land on a glacier with a helicopter ride or use one to go heli-skiing for an adrenaline rush like no other. The area's pleasant climate offers plenty of sunshine and less rain than most other destinations in the country so you can enjoy the outdoors thoroughly, so be sure to include a stop at Lake Wanaka in your itinerary when planning a trip to New Zealand.