Set on a mountain-ringed lake, Wanaka is an attractive destination in its own right, and a good base for exploring the Central Otago region. Whether you’re into adrenaline-inducing adventures or prefer a slower pace, you’ll find plenty of fresh mountain air and lots of activities to keep you entertained. Here are a few suggestions.
Day 1: Get Active
Morning: Take a cruise or water taxi to one of the four islands in Lake Wanaka. There, go on a short hike, play on the stony beaches, or just admire the views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Afternoon: Dial things up a notch, and fulfill any long-held adventure-activity dreams you might have. Take a scenic helicopter ride, kayak on the lake, go for a jet boat ride, jump out of a plane on a tandem skydive—there are many options in and around Wanaka.
Night: The fresh air of the day might have left you tired, so enjoy a relaxed dinner and drinks at a lakeside restaurant. Don’t forget to sample some Central Otago wines, considered some of the best in New Zealand.
Day 2: Tour the Countryside
Morning and afternoon: Wanaka is well-located for venturing farther afield in Central Otago. Food and wine lovers shouldn’t miss the opportunity to tour some local vineyards. Famous for its pinot noirs, Otago is one of the southernmost wine growing regions in the world. Wine tours usually include lunch at a top-notch winery restaurant. If wine isn’t really your thing, go on a daylong horseback riding or cycling tour instead.
Night: On your last night in Wanaka, seek out a bar with live music. Especially in the summer, some bars in town host DJs and bands, and even themed nights. Wanaka is small, so the nightlife isn’t extensive—but there are more than enough places to dance the night away, if you wish.