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Wanaka is a town situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka in the South Island of New Zealand. It is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park.
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Points of Interest
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Points of Interest in Wanaka
- Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World, 188 Wanaka Luggate Hwy, ☎ +64 3 443-7489. Daily 08:30-17:00. Located just outside of town, Puzzling World's major feature is The Great Maze, a 1.5 km two story maze of confusing passages. The site also features dozens of optical illusions and puzzles. Check out Wanaka's version of the Leaning Tower and the free puzzles in the Puzzling Cafe. Tumbling Towers: free, Great Maze: $14/10, Illusions: $14/10, Combined: $17.50/12.
- Warbirds Museum (NZ Fighter Pilots Museum). Showcases fighter aircraft and more, featuring the Hurricane, Mustang, LA-9, Vampire and Polikarpov fighters. Tells the story of New Zealand fighter pilots.
- Wanaka Beer Works (Located at Wanaka Transport Museum). Learn about the brewing process and sample a brew or two in the tasting room.
- Festival of Colour. This celebration of the arts occurs every two years in April.
- Warbirds Over Wanaka. Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th April 2014. An air show held every second Easter long weekend, the next Airshow is Friday 18th April, last was in 2012) See over 50 aircraft from the biplanes of WWI, the stars of WWII, the Korea fighters and the jets of Vietnam. Also military vehicles and Harley Davidson motor cycles.
Wanaka shares many of the characteristics that draw millions of tourists to Queenstown each year – the mountains, the lakes and the outdoors – yet it enjoys a far smaller profile. In many ways it's the little brother to Queenstown – many would say the cooler little brother. While it doesn't have as many hotels and restaurants or the large bar scene, it still has a few great attractions of its own, and respectable eating and nightlife.
During winter, Wanaka is used as a base for skiing and working in Cardrona, Snowpark/Snowfarm and Treble Cone and has a true 'ski town' vibe. During the summer it's a busy holiday town for New Zealanders; many of the houses in town are baches (holiday houses). Lake Wanaka, New Zealand's fourth-largest at 192 km2 (74 sqmi), is also a popular boating destination (it's warmer than Lake Wakatipu), as is the nearby Lake Hawea.
Wanaka is pronounced wanna-ka (wanna as in wannabe). Many international tourists before have made the mistake of pronouncing Wanaka as if it rhymed with tanker, much to the locals' amusement.
Wanaka is a mecca for outdoor adventure; day hikes, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, boating on the lake or rivers, horsetrekking, skydiving, scenic flights and more. There is also a range of hiking and mountaineering in the rugged and spectacular Mt. Aspiring National Park World Heritage area; and skiing in the nearby skifields - Cardrona, Treble Cone, Snowpark/Snow Farm, and further afield near Queenstown Coronet Peak and the Remarkables. The multitude of activities in Queenstown are also just an hours drive away, so its possible to base yourself in Wanaka while heading over there for the day to hit up the activities on offer.
- Boating, several operators offer guided cruises out to the islands on Lake Wanaka. There is also a wake-boarding/water-skiing charter service. Both Mou Waho and Stevenson's island provide wildlife sanctuaries for birds. Mou Waho is a larger island with a small lake which you can walk up to. Lake Wanaka itself is the third largest lake in New Zealand and has a maximum depth of over a 300 m. There are beaches close by town which offer swimming and sailing or windsurfing, as well as idyllic and virtually deserted beaches 5-10 min drive from the township.
- Deep Canyon (Guided canyon adventures), 99 Ardmore St, ☎ +64 3 443-7922. Nov-Apr 07:00-11:00. Descend the spectacular canyons of the Matukituki valley. Explore crystal pools and native forest. Plunge down water polished chutes, abseil down waterfalls. Climb, swim and float through a spectacular world of water sculpted rock and sparkling, crashing waterfalls. $225 upwards.
- Cinema Paradiso, 72-76 Brownston St. Legendary small movie theater with custom seating including comfy old sofas, an old Morris Minor, and a great range of food
- Fishing, the surrounding lakes and rivers offer superb Fly Fishing. The rivers are stocked with both Brown and Rainbow Trout.
- Skiing, Lake Wanaka is both a skiers and snowboarders paradise. Close to 4 ski resorts. Heliskiing and cross country skiing are also possibilities.
- Treble Cone. Treble Cone has two chairlifts and a poma serving a mixture of beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert terrain. The resort offers a small retail store, cafe, bar and restaurant at its base. It is approximately 30 minutes drive from Wanaka. The last part of the drive is up a winding dirt road that requires snow chains in winter and a confident driver.
- Cardrona. This is the highest ski field in New Zealand
- Harris Mountains Heliski. Harris mountains heliski can be booked from retail stores in Wanaka, and offers a number of different payment options, for a few runs or many. Go when the snow is good or go when the snow is ordinary, and trust your guide and pilot to find a stash. If you book only a few runs and want to do more, the guide may offer an extension to you while you are on the hill. Make a lowball offer! They would not have flown out if profits were not already sorted, and the guide may want another run anyway.
- Skydive Lake Wanaka, 14 Mustang Lane, Wanaka Airport, SH6, ☎ +64 3 443-7207, toll-free: 0800 786 877, e-mail: email@example.com. 08:00–20:00. It’s not every day that you strap yourself to a beautiful stranger and leap from a perfectly good aircraft! High altitude tandem skydive. Freefall from 15,000 feet From $329.
- Wanaka Collection, ☎ +64 3 443-1856. Activities & B&B accommodation owned by locals dedicated to giving you the best Wanaka holiday experience. Jet boating, helicopter tours, guided hikes & heli-hiking, fishing, lake cruises, 4WD tours, wine tours.
- Walking, In addition to overnight and multi-day hikes such as Gillespie Pass, French Ridge, Cascade Saddle and etc there are an ever increasing number of enjoyable day walks. Probably the most popular of these and the most satisfying is the Rob Roy glacier hike in Mt Aspiring National Park, closely followed by the circuit Diamond Lake track and the Mt Roy track. New additions include the trail (best mountain biked) out to beautiful Colquhouns beach and on to the Rumbling Burn.
- Wine. Take a tour around the local estates
- AmiGos Mexican Grill, 71 Ardmore Street, ☎ +64 3 443-7872.
- Finchy's Bar and Restaurant, 2 Dunmore Street, ☎ +64 3 443-6262. Built on the 1880 old Wanaka jail site.
- McGregor's Restaurant, 54 Reece Crescent, ☎ +64 3 443-5200. Local cuisine, outdoor seating. Huge meals.
- Bullock Bar, 71 Ardmore St. A bar with some real Central Otago character, features some unique entertainment including indoor ice curling and occasionally sheep racing
- Opium Bar, 66 Ardmore St. Formerly Red Rocks, asian themed bar popular with the snowboard crowd
- Water Bar, 145 Ardmore St. Formerly shooters, waterfront bar with a lake side deck
- Speights Ale House, 163 Ardmore St. Speights bar offering drink and food
There is a New World supermarket a block back from the lake for all your food supplies.
Shopping opportunities are a little limited, as you would expect of a town the size of Wanaka. There is a good range of ski/snowboard/outdoor and also clothing shops to get you prepared for the mountains.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Wanaka on Wikivoyage.