Set on the southern end of Lake Wanaka on New Zealand's South Island, the resort town of Wanaka near Queenstown is the gateway to the Southern Alps' Mount Aspiring National Park. Surrounded by spectacular natural scenery of snow-capped mountains, glistening glaciers, azure alpine lakes, and densely wooded forests, the town offers an abundance of adventurous attractions and outdoor activities. Hit the slopes at the nearby Cardrona and Treble Cone ski resorts; head into the Mount Aspiring National Park for hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife watching; and taste some of New Zealand’s top wines at one of the many wine estates in the region. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
Lake Wanaka is the fourth largest lake in New Zealand, spanning an area of 74.13 square miles at an elevation of 920 feet above sea level. The 1000-foot deep lake offers year-round activities from fishing, jet-boating, water-skiing and sailing in summer to ice-skating, cross-country skiing, ice-fishing, and alpine hiking. The town of Wanaka lies on the southern tip of the namesake lake and is named after the original Maori name, Oanaka, which means 'the place of Anaka', who was a local tribal chief.
Lake Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
Standing between Wanaka and Glendhu Bay, Roy’s Peak is a 5177-foot mountain just outside of Wanaka that boasts panoramic views of Lake Wanaka and Mt Aspiring from its towering peak. The best way to reach the summit and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes is via the 10-mile Roy’s Peak track, which zigzags steeply up the side of the mountain. The trail meanders across diverse terrain, ranging from tussock grasslands to alpine scrub near the summit. The trail closes in October and November during the lambing season.
Roys Peak, Otago, 9381, New Zealand
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© Rippon Vineyard
The Rippon Vineyard is Wanaka’s oldest vineyard and is world-renowned for producing bio-dynamic wine against a backdrop of exquisite lakeside views. The family-owned five-generation wine farm has been owned by the Mills family since 1913 and is home to some of the oldest vines in the Central Otago region. The winery uses biodynamic farming methods to produce varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, and the house specialty, Pinot Noir. Rippon Vineyard is open daily for wine sales and tastings and is available for private events and functions.
246 Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road, Wanaka, 9381, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-80-84
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4.Mou Waho Island, Wanaka, New Zealand
Mou Waho Island is one of several islands in Lake Wanaka and a popular spot for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. Meaning ‘Outer Island,’ Mou Waho Island is one of four pest-free nature reserves in the lake and is home to fascinating geographical features and a diverse array of fauna and flora. The island can only be accessed by boat and can be explored on several forested tracks that wind around the island. Fascinating wildlife that calls the island home includes Southern Alps geckos, native Bellbirds, and for the rare and flightless Buff Weka.
Cattle Flat, Otago, 9382, New Zealand
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5.Warbirds & Wheels Museum
© Warbirds & Wheels Museum
Located at the Wanaka Airport, the Warbirds & Wheels Museum presents and displays classic and vintage automobiles and motorcycles, and military aircraft. The museum is home to some of New Zealand’s finest privately owned classic and vintage cars that represent a century of automobile innovation. The Warbirds is a modern visual arts gallery that features a collection of aircraft used in both the First and Second World War, including a Skyhawk. The gallery also tells the tale of local legend Sir Tim Wallis, and the museum has a 1950s American retro diner that serves coffee and light meals.
11 Lloyd Dunn Avenue, Wanaka, 9343, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-70-10
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6.National Transport and Toy Museum
© National Transport and Toy Museum
The National Transport and Toy Museum is a family-run museum with a vast private collection featuring over 650 vehicles, 20 military and civilian aircraft, and more than 60,000 toys. Housed across four large buildings set on 16 acres of land, the museum displays over 300 motor cars, motorbikes, scooters, fire engines, various trucks, military equipment and vehicles, and construction equipment. The toy collection includes all sorts of toys and games ranging from clockwork and battery-powered toys to teddy bears, Lego, Meccano, and musical instruments. There is also a nostalgic selection of dolls, collectible relics, and other vintage items.
891 Wanaka-Luggate Highway, RD 2 Wanaka, 9382, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-87-65
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7.Cinema Paradiso, Wanaka, New Zealand
© batuhan toker/stock.adobe.com
Cinema Paradiso is a small boutique movie theater with vintage décor and a classic Morris Minor car. The three-screen cinema has comfy sofas and seats and serves delicious freshly baked cookies, homemade ice-cream, and light meals before and after screenings. The cinema presents the newest blockbuster releases, which are introduced by a friendly patron with a Celtic flair.
72 Brownston Street, Wanaka, 9434, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-15-05
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8.Puzzling World, Wanaka, New Zealand
© Puzzling World
Puzzling World is a world-class, family-friendly attraction that promises a world of fun for the whole family. Established over 45 years ago, the park is spread over seven acres and is designed to fascinate visitors of all ages with an array of challenging and brain-baffling activities such as perception-warping illusion rooms, a puzzle center, and the world’s first 3D super maze. Other highlights at the center include the Leaning and Tumbling Towers, the Hall of Following Faces, the Sculptillusion Gallery, and the Tilted House. The Puzzle Centre & Café has a giant Kaleidoscope ceiling and Roman-Style bathrooms.
188 Wanaka-Luggate Highway, Wanaka, 9382, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-74-89
9.Wanaka Lavender Farm, Wanaka, New Zealand
© Wanaka Lavender Farm
Wanaka Lavender Farm is a tranquil haven with 10 acres of rolling lavender fields, beautifully manicured display gardens, farm animals, and honey tasting. Visitors to the farm can stroll through the lavender fields, interact with the friendly resident farm animals, taste local organic honey produced on the farm, and stock up on some natural lavender products. The farm’s tearoom serves light snacks and drinks, including homemade lavender ice-cream, a selection of honey treats, and herbal teas, and sells a range of fragrant products.
36 Morris Road, Wanaka, 9382, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-63-59
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10.Francesca's Italian Kitchen, Wanaka, New Zealand
© Francesca's Italian Kitchen
Francesca’s Italian Kitchen is a charming, friendly spot that serves traditional Italian dishes and local wines in a warm and welcoming setting. Founded eight years ago, the bustling restaurant has been a go-to for delicious Italian and Mediterranean cuisine such as handmade pasta and wood-fired pizza, prime meats and fresh seafood, organic vegetarian dishes, and crispy salads. The beloved stalwart also offers a hand-selected wine list of Italian and New Zealand wines, Peroni beers, and imported spirits, and is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
93 Ardmore Street, Wanaka, Otago, 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-55-99
11.Federal Diner, Wanaka, New Zealand
© Federal Diner
Federal Diner is a local neighborhood eatery and a favorite spot for lazy breakfasts and brunches and laid-back dinners. The hidden gem serves a creative menu of contemporary classics and house specialties, prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and seasonal products. Signature dishes include warm cheese scones for breakfast, fresh salads and gourmet sandwiches for lunch, and slow-roasted lamb and prawn curry for dinner. The cuisine is accompanied by a selection of fine wines from New Zealand, craft beers, signature spirits, and handcrafted cocktails, and the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
47 Helwick Street, Wanaka, Otago, 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-51-52
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12.Big Fig, Wanaka, New Zealand
© Big Fig
Big Fig is a waterfront restaurant that specializes in slow-cooked food with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. The casual, laid-back spot on the Wanaka lakefront operates on a walk-in, no reservations basis and serves a menu of authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern such as slow-cooked lamb shawarma, handmade meatballs, free-range, spicy rotisserie chicken, hot veggie dishes, fresh salads, oven-baked pittas, and other Middle Eastern-inspired dishes. The cuisine is accompanied by a selection of fine wines from New Zealand, craft beers, signature spirits, and handcrafted cocktails, and the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
105 Ardmore Street, Wanaka, Otago, 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-50-23
13.Things to Do in Wanaka: Bistro Gentil
© Bistro Gentil
Bistro Gentil is a fine-dining restaurant that serves modern French cuisine prepared using fresh, locally sourced seasonal produce from the restaurant’s kitchen garden and farms in the Central Otago region. The cozy bistro has a beautiful garden setting overlooking the mountains of Wanaka just out of town and has a lovely outdoor area for a game of Pétanque after lunch or dinner. The bistro serves a five-course dégustation and à la carte menus of typical French fare ranging from French onion soup to Cardrona merino lamb rump, accompanied by a wine list of 16 wines by the glass from an enomatic wine machine. Bistro Gentil is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
76 A Golf Course Road, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-22-99
14.Things to Do in Wanaka: Thai Siam
Thai Siam is a contemporary Thai restaurant that serves top-notch cuisine in an elegant setting. The casual restaurant serves authentic Thai cuisine, using passed-down family recipes and traditional Thai cooking techniques. Boasting a reputation for delicious, unique cuisine, the restaurant serves a menu of delicious dishes such as green, yellow and Panang curries, Pad Thai, Pad Gra Prow, Spicy Catfish, Choo Chee Salmon, Yum Nue or Yum Gai, and Tom Yum Goong. Warunee Thai Food offers a variety of drinks, including craft beers, casual wines, sodas, and fruit juices, and is open for dinner daily.
80 Ardmore Street, Wanaka, Otago, 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-50-10
15.WGK - Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen
© WGK - Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen
Boasting spectacular views of Wanaka Lake and the surrounding snow-capped mountains, WGK - Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen is an elegant, fine-dining restaurant that specializes in slow, stone grill cooking. The restaurant has stylish décor and a sophisticated ambiance and serves an à la carte dining menu featuring seafood delicacies, vegetarian starters and mains, fresh salads, premium meat cuts, and the kitchen’s signature dish of slow-cooked roast lamb shoulder. The cuisine is accompanied by a selection of fine wines from New Zealand, craft beers, signature spirits, and handcrafted cocktails, and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
123 Ardmore Street, Wanaka, Otago, 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +642-75-36-85-78
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16.The Cow Pizza & Spaghetti House
© The Cow Pizza & Spaghetti House
The Cow Pizza and Spaghetti House is a laid-back, family-friendly restaurant in Wanaka's vibrant Post Office Lane that serves wood-fired pizzas and homemade spaghetti, Kiwi-style. Based in a rustic stone building with comfy interiors, an open fire, and a sheltered courtyard for outdoor dining, the restaurant serves a variety of hand-tossed pizzas, fresh salads, and traditional Italian spaghetti dishes, all of which are prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant offers late-night dining and take-away options.
33 Ardmore Street, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-42-69
17.Trout Bar & Restaurant
© Trout Bar & Restaurant
The Trout Bar & Restaurant is a lively spot on the waterfront with spectacular views that serves succulent steaks, fresh seafood, casual bar fare, and an extensive list of drinks. The restaurant has a relaxed ambiance with comfortable décor and is an excellent spot for watching the latest game with friends over a casual lunch and cold beers. The restaurant serves delicious breakfasts and lunches and is a beautiful spot for sundowners and romantic dinners. The Trout Bar & Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
151 Ardmore Street, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-26-00
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18.KOTA Restaurant and Bar (Formerly The Landing)
Formerly known as The Landing, KOTA Restaurant and Bar is set on the shores of Lake Wanaka that serves progressive international cuisine, local Central Otago wines, New Zealand beer, and signature cocktails. Located less than an hour northeast of Queenstown, KOTA Restaurant and Bar uses the freshest and most local produce available to create and present seasonal cuisine such as a slow-cooked rack of lamb and fresh seafood. The cuisine is accompanied by handcrafted local and imported beers, wines from the surrounding vineyards, and classic cocktails.
0 Ardmore Street, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-50-99
19.The Coffee Shack
The Coffee Shack is a pint-size espresso bar based in a converted garage in Wanaka that serves a variety of coffee and espresso-based drinks, including americanos, espressos, lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, and seasonal specialty drinks, along with tea and other hot beverages. The friendly, community coffee shop also offers freshly baked items such as pastries, muffins, and other sweet treats.
75 Brownston Street, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand
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20.Things to Do in Wanaka, New Zealand: Relishes Cafe
© Relishes Café
Relishes Café is an elegant waterfront restaurant that is a relaxed sunny café by day serving legendary breakfasts and lunches and a romantic candlelit restaurant by night offering one-of-a-kind dinners. Relishes Café offers a unique dining experience with a seasonal menu of farm-to-table eats with creative twists, such as artisan wood-fired pizzas with gourmet toppings, sharing small plates, and fresh seafood like local Dungeness crab chowder. There are also gluten-free and vegan options, and breakfast is served all day, along with lunch and dinner against a backdrop of spectacular views of the lake.
1/99 Ardmore Street, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-90-18
21.Florence's Foodstore and Cafe
© Florence's Foodstore and Café
Set in Heritage Park on the outskirts of Wanaka, Florence’s Foodstore & Café is a contemporary eatery and food emporium with provincial décor that serves a creative menu of locally sourced and elegantly served cuisine that reflects the four seasons. In addition to delicious meals, the café offers handmade artisan bread, free-range eggs from local farms, local and imported groceries and deli items, handcrafted sweet treats and ready-meals, and picnic hampers. Florence’s Foodstore & Café is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as traditional high afternoon tea.
74 Cardrona Valley Road, Wanaka 9381, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-70-78
22.Gusto Chinese Restaurant
© zhu difeng/stock.adobe.com
Located opposite the Dinosaur Park, Gusto Chinese Restaurant serves authentic Chinese cuisine in a casual and comfortable setting with beautiful lake views. The restaurant features Asian-style décor and an elegant ambiance overlooking the water. The menu features appetizers such as shrimp egg rolls, garlic chicken wings, and beef skewers, entrées of chow foon, chow mein, vegetarian and chicken noodles, and fresh sushi, and steamed dim sum. The extensive menu also features a range of beef, chicken, pork, and fish dishes, along with noodles, rice, and vegetarian dishes and a variety of drinks, including original sake, craft beers, global wines, and fruit juices.
1 Lakeside Road, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-66-39
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23.Things to Do in Wanaka, New Zealand: Beanie Cafe
© Beanie Café
The Beanie Café is a charming little café on Ardmore Street that serves a menu of healthy fare and hot entrées along with a range of coffee and other drinks. The restaurant offers high-speed wireless Internet and serves a menu of standard coffee drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, americanos, and single and double shot espressos, along with seasonal specialty drinks made with a variety of rotating local roasters. Freshly baked pastries are delivered daily, and other light fare include handmade sandwiches and sweet cakes and muffins.
71 Ardmore Street, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-41-00
24.Things to Do in Wanaka, New Zealand: Ritual Espresso Cafe
Ritual Espresso Café is a small, cozy coffee shop that offers a great place to grab a cup of joe between classes. The little café provides a wide variety of coffee and drink and food options for coffee lovers, as well as healthy smoothies and freshly baked sweet treats. The chalkboard breakfast and lunch menus boast handmade sandwiches, toasted paninis, bagels, fresh salads, and Turkish bread, along with a series of espresso drinks, including single or doubles, americano, cortado, and macchiato, as well as lattes, pour-over and drip coffee, and a variety of teas.
18 Helwick Street, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-43-66-62
24 Best Things to Do in Wanaka, New Zealand
- Lake Wanaka, Photo: Somphol/stock.adobe.com
- Roy’s Peak, Photo: Joshua/stock.adobe.com
- Rippon Vineyard, Photo: Rippon Vineyard
- Mou Waho Island, Wanaka, New Zealand, Photo: RG41_official/stock.adobe.com
- Warbirds & Wheels Museum, Photo: Warbirds & Wheels Museum
- National Transport and Toy Museum, Photo: National Transport and Toy Museum
- Cinema Paradiso, Wanaka, New Zealand, Photo: batuhan toker/stock.adobe.com
- Puzzling World, Wanaka, New Zealand, Photo: Puzzling World
- Wanaka Lavender Farm, Wanaka, New Zealand, Photo: Wanaka Lavender Farm
- Francesca's Italian Kitchen, Wanaka, New Zealand, Photo: Francesca's Italian Kitchen
- Federal Diner, Wanaka, New Zealand, Photo: Federal Diner
- Big Fig, Wanaka, New Zealand, Photo: Big Fig
- Things to Do in Wanaka: Bistro Gentil, Photo: Bistro Gentil
- Things to Do in Wanaka: Thai Siam, Photo: ArenaCreative/stock.adobe.com
- WGK - Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen, Photo: WGK - Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen
- The Cow Pizza & Spaghetti House, Photo: The Cow Pizza & Spaghetti House
- Trout Bar & Restaurant, Photo: Trout Bar & Restaurant
- KOTA Restaurant and Bar (Formerly The Landing), Photo: BillionPhotos.com/stock.adobe.com
- The Coffee Shack, Photo: jobi_pro/stock.adobe.com
- Things to Do in Wanaka, New Zealand: Relishes Cafe, Photo: Relishes Café
- Florence's Foodstore and Cafe, Photo: Florence's Foodstore and Café
- Gusto Chinese Restaurant, Photo: zhu difeng/stock.adobe.com
- Things to Do in Wanaka, New Zealand: Beanie Cafe, Photo: Beanie Café
- Things to Do in Wanaka, New Zealand: Ritual Espresso Cafe, Photo: Fxquadro/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Dmitry Pichugin/stock.adobe.com
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