Are you wondering how to fill your days in Wanaka? Assuming you aren’t here in the winter months to ski at one of Wanaka’s four ski-fields, here are some ideas…
Catch an early movie and dinner at Cinema Paradiso, a Lonely Planet ‘must do’. The cinema boasts a great café and bar, along with unique seating on an eclectic array of vintage couches. Order your dinner before the movie starts and watch the first half of the movie with a glass of local wine. At intermission your dinner will be ready. Dine in the café or eat off a tray on your lap as you watch the second half of the movie. Don’t miss the amazing over-sized cookies when they come hot out of the oven at intermission.
Wanaka is well known for its brilliant blue skies both summer and winter and we enjoy the country’s lowest rainfall, making flightseeing (as well as heli-hiking and heli-skiing) popular activities. This morning take a helicopter flight over the spectacular Mount Aspiring National Park glaciers, or perhaps fly down to Milford Sound. Most flights include two or three landings so you can choose to play in the snow high in the mountains, drink from a remote crystal clear mountain lake or stroll amongst the stunning scenery at Milford Sound. This is my trip report from a flight I enjoyed last year.
After the helicopter trip head into Wanaka to pick up some picnic supplies, then continue driving around the lake shore towards Mount Aspiring National Park. A gorgeous 30 minute drive brings you to the Diamond Lake track. The trail gently climbs the hills to offer spectacular views far up the lake which extends 35km into the distance.
Heading back to Wanaka, stop at Rippon Vineyard, the world’s most photographed vineyard, for a wine tasting as the late afternoon sun bathes the vineyard, the lake and the distant mountains in a shimmering golden light.
After a late start, enjoy a leisurely breakfast before joining River Journeys on an exciting three hour jet boat ride up the Matukituki River. The stunning Matukituki is a classic NZ braided river, the strands of often shallow water making for an exciting ride. Here is my trip report from 2008.
After taking lunch at one of the many outdoor cafes in Wanaka, drop in to visit Puzzling World where, after tackling the 1.5km long great maze, you will be entertained by the clever illusion rooms. The Ames Room is fantastic.
Next rent some mountain bikes and follow the bike paths around the lake edge to the Clutha River and the Outlet Track. Relax on the shaded banks of the river and perhaps even enjoy a swim in the clear waters of NZ’s fastest flowing river. Biking down to Albert Town you can then choose to return along the roads, or stay in the cool shade of the river trail as you bike back to town.
On the way out of town stop at the airport for one last Wanaka adventure, a tandem skydive. Known as the best skydiving offered in NZ, you have the choice of jumping at 12,000ft or 15,000ft. Most choose the 15,000ft for those extra seconds of freefall. The views are sensational.