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10 ‘MUST DO’S’ when visiting Wanaka

WANAKA MUST DO’S // Once you’ve booked your trip to fly with Southern Alps Air, you’ll likely be staying in Wanaka or close by in the likes of Hawea, Cromwell, Queenstown or Makarora. Wherever you stay – there’s no doubt you’ll want to check out this little quaint town, home to Southern Alps Air. With a long, local history in Wanaka and its surrounding areas, we’ve come up with a wee list of things you can do while you’re in the area. Ten, to be exact. 

10. Roys Peak

If you’ve Googled anything about Wanaka, you are sure to have come across photos of Roy’s Peak. It’s synonymous with Wanaka, and it’s free! The track is steep and requires a good level of fitness, taking most people 4-5 hours return. But, it’s definitely worth it! Check out everything you need to know here.

9. Puzzling World, Wanaka

This kid-friendly, activity is pretty hard to miss when you’re on your way into town – look out for it on your left about 5 minutes before the Wanaka township. Since 1973 Puzzling World has been “messing with people’s heads” no matter where you come from. With a mix of bizarre buildings, rooms of illusion and the world-famous Great Maze this attraction is designed to baffle your brain and challenge your perceptions of reality.

8. Visit Hammer & Nail Cafe

Hammer & Nail Café is the perfect place to grab your lunch on the go or sit down for a bite to eat before heading away on your adventures. Sandwiches, scones, cakes, pies (yum!) and much, much more! PLUS… we reckon it’s the best coffee in town! 

7. Check out ‘THAT Wanaka Tree’ 

THAT Wanaka Tree is a lonesome little tree sitting in the water, on the edge of Lake Wanaka. It’s been there for years and is often the dropback to many iconic Wanaka. You’ll be hard pressed to find a ‘Wanaka Must-Do’s’ list that doesn’t feature #THATwanakatree. Definitely work checking out! 

6. Makarora Blue Pools

The Blue Pools are actually about 1 hour out of Wanaka, en route to the West Coast. BUT, they’re definitely worth a quick trip up the road.  Wander along a native bush track and over a swing bridge for your chance to experience the Blue Pools filled with the bright blue water from the Makarora River. As you pass through the small Makarora Village before you get to the Blue Pools carpack, keep an eye out for Buttercup – our little yellow Cessna 185 airplane. 

5. Go for a horse ride + wine tasting 

Take a horse back trek with Waterfall Equestrian along the shores of Lake Wanaka with Waterfall Equestrian through Wanaka’s most iconic vineyard – Rippon. Following your trek on horseback, head up to Rippon and have a wine tasting. 

4. Mount Iron Hike

Mount Iron is a much easier option than Roy’s Peak and you still get a really lovely panoramic view, looking out to Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea and across to the Cardrona Valley. The walk is steep in some places but is achievable for most fitness levels. Expect about a 1.5 hour return trip. 

3. Head up the Mountain (skiing) – Winter or Summer

Wanaka is within 30 minutes of three, skifields (would you believe it!). These include Cardona, Treble Cone and Snow Farm. Our favourite here at Southern Alps Air, Cardrona skifield, is open during the summer too – for mountain biking and carting or just to check it out.

2. Lavender Farm

It’s no secret New Zealand has lots of sheep (about 6 sheep to every human), and these sheep are farmed across the country. But, Lavendar farms are a little less common. Just a few minutes from Wanaka, the local Lavendar Farm is home to 20 acres of pristine land filled with lavender fields, farm animals and display gardens. Wander through the flowers, meet the team, play a garden game and test out their unique herbal teas and lavender ice-creams.

1. Take a scenic flight 

Weave your way through the Southern Alps and Mount Aspiring National Park (Wanaka’s closest national park) to experience some of the most extraordinary, untouched mountains New Zealand has to offer. As Wanaka’s longest standing scenic flight company, Southern Alps Air provide truly unique and breathtaking. Here’s what to expect if you’re planning to travel to Milford Sound.