Wanaka is a town located in the southern alps of New Zealand’s South Island. It is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding due to its close proximity to several ski resorts, stunning mountain views, and a wide range of skiing and snowboarding opportunities for all levels of experience.
Wanaka is most renowned for its wide range of skiing and snowboarding experiences. From backcountry and heli-skiing to world-class terrain parks, there is something for everyone. The region is famous for its natural terrain and wide-open powder bowls, making it a favourite among intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders.
How Long is the Ski Season in Wanaka?
The ski season in Wanaka typically runs from June to October. July and August are considered peak season, with the best snow conditions and the highest number of visitors. However, the months of June and September can also offer excellent snow conditions and fewer crowds.
What is the Snow Quality like at Wanaka?
Wanaka is known for its high-quality snow, with an average snowfall of over 2-4 meters each season. The snow is dry and powdery, perfect for skiing and snowboarding. The ski resorts in Wanaka also have extensive snow making facilities, ensuring a consistent snow quality throughout the season.
What are the Best Ski Resorts in Wanaka?
The ski resorts in Wanaka are renowned for their natural terrain, stunning alpine scenery, and high-quality snow conditions. Each resort has its unique features, making them attractive and different from other ski destinations around the world. Here is some information on the ski resorts in Wanaka:
- Cardrona Alpine Resort: Cardrona is one of the most popular ski resorts in Wanaka, known for its wide-open terrain and excellent facilities. The resort has over 400 hectares of skiable terrain, including beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs, as well as terrain parks for snowboarders. Cardrona also has a dedicated ski and snowboard school with experienced instructors for all levels, making it an ideal place for families and beginners.
- Treble Cone: Treble Cone is another popular ski resort in Wanaka, renowned for its challenging terrain and stunning views of Lake Wanaka. The resort has over 550 hectares of skiable terrain, including steep chutes, natural features, and off-piste terrain for advanced skiers and snowboarders. Treble Cone also has a dedicated ski and snowboard school, with experienced instructors who can help you improve your skills.
- Snow Farm NZ: Snow Farm NZ is a cross-country skiing resort located just 35 minutes from Wanaka. It is renowned for its extensive network of cross-country ski trails, which offer a unique way to explore the beautiful alpine landscape. Snow Farm NZ has over 55km of trails for all levels of cross-country skiers, from beginner to advanced, and also offers snowshoeing and fat biking experiences.
What makes the ski resorts in Wanaka attractive and different from other ski destinations is their combination of natural terrain, high-quality snow conditions, and stunning alpine scenery. The resorts in Wanaka offer a unique blend of skiing and snowboarding experiences for all levels, from family-friendly runs to challenging backcountry terrain. Additionally, Wanaka has a vibrant and welcoming community, with a wide range of accommodation options, restaurants, and après-ski activities.
Wanaka is also only one hours drive to Queenstown, where you can ski or snowboard Coronet Peak or The Remarkables ski resorts.
What are the Best Ski schools at Wanaka?
All three ski resorts in Wanaka have ski schools that offer lessons for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Here are the ski schools in Wanaka and their website URLs:
- Cardrona Alpine Resort Ski & Snowboard School: Cardrona Alpine Resort has a dedicated ski and snowboard school, offering group and private lessons for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. The ski school is located at the base of the mountain and has a team of experienced instructors. Their website URL is: https://www.cardrona.com/en/ski-school/
- Treble Cone Ski & Snowboard School: Treble Cone also has a ski and snowboard school that offers lessons for all levels. The school is located at the base of the mountain and has a team of experienced instructors. Their website URL is: https://www.treblecone.com/ski-and-ride-school/
- Snow Farm NZ Cross Country Ski School: Snow Farm NZ has a dedicated cross-country ski school that offers lessons for all levels of cross-country skiers. The ski school is located at the Snow Farm Lodge and has a team of experienced instructors. Their website URL is: https://snowfarmnz.com/cross-country-ski-lessons/
These ski schools offer a range of lessons, from beginner group lessons to private lessons for advanced skiers and snowboarders. They are all highly regarded for their experienced instructors and quality teaching programs, and are a great way to improve your skiing or snowboarding skills while enjoying the beautiful scenery of Wanaka.
Where are the Best Places to Stay When Skiing in Wanaka?
There are many types of accommodation available in Wanaka to suit a range of budgets and preferences. Here are ten recommended accommodation in Wanaka, listed in no particular order, with their website URLs:
- Edgewater Hotel: A lakeside hotel with a range of accommodation options, from hotel rooms to apartments.
- Oakridge Resort Lake Wanaka: A resort-style hotel with a range of accommodation options, from hotel rooms to apartments.
- Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park & Motels: A budget-friendly holiday park with cabins, motel units, and powered campervan sites.
- Ramada Resort by Wyndham Wanaka: A hotel with a range of accommodation options, from hotel rooms to apartments.
- Wanaka Hotel: A historic hotel in the heart of Wanaka with a range of room types.
- Wanaka Homestead Lodge & Cottages: A charming bed and breakfast with a range of accommodation options, from lodge rooms to self-contained cottages.
- The Moorings: A lakeside hotel with a range of accommodation options, from hotel rooms to apartments.
- Lake Hawea Hotel: A hotel in nearby Lake Hawea with a range of room types.
- Wanaka Luxury Apartments: Luxury self-contained apartments in the heart of Wanaka.
- Minaret Lodge: A luxury lodge with a range of room types, located just outside of Wanaka.
Where are the Best Places to Eat When Skiing in Wanaka?
Wanaka offers a variety of dining options, from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants, as well as entertainment options suitable for singles, couples, and families. Here are ten recommended restaurants and entertainment options in Wanaka, listed in no particular order, with their website URLs:
- Francesca’s Italian Kitchen: A popular restaurant serving classic Italian cuisine, suitable for couples and families.
- Kika: A lively restaurant and bar serving contemporary New Zealand cuisine, suitable for singles, couples, and groups.
- Big Fig: A casual eatery serving Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, suitable for families and groups.
- Urban Grind: A cafe serving breakfast and lunch, suitable for singles and couples.
- The Landing Restaurant & Bar: A fine dining restaurant with lake views, serving seasonal New Zealand cuisine, suitable for couples and special occasions.
- Cinema Paradiso: A unique movie theatre serving homemade ice cream and pizza, suitable for families and groups.
- Bistro Gentil: A French-inspired restaurant with a focus on local ingredients, suitable for couples and special occasions.
- The Cow Restaurant: A casual restaurant serving burgers, pizza, and other comfort food, suitable for families and groups.
- Cardrona Distillery: A distillery and tasting room offering tours and tastings of their award-winning spirits, suitable for adults.
- Kai Whakapai: A casual eatery and bar serving pizzas, burgers, and craft beer, suitable for families and groups.
Our Must Visit recommendation when skiing in Wanaka:
The Cardrona Hotel – One of New Zealand’s oldest and most iconic and photographed hotels – we highly recommend dropping in after a day skiing and make sure you have dinner, or a beer or mulled wine by the fire or in the massive garden bar – the hotel is also suitable for families.
These restaurants and entertainment options in Wanaka offer a range of experiences for different budgets and preferences, from casual eateries to fine dining restaurants, and from family-friendly activities to adult-focused experiences.
Popular Bars and Entertainment Venues When Skiing in Wanaka
Wanaka has a vibrant bar scene, with options ranging from cozy pubs to lively nightclubs. Here are ten recommended bars and nightlife options in Wanaka, listed in no particular order, with their website URLs:
- Barluga: A cozy bar with a fireplace and live music, suitable for couples and groups.
- Kai Whakapai: A casual bar serving craft beer and pizzas, suitable for families and groups.
- The Cardrona Hotel: A historic hotel with a traditional pub and restaurant, suitable for families and groups.
- Pembroke Patisserie: A cafe and bakery serving coffee, cocktails, and desserts, suitable for singles and couples.
- Gin & Raspberry: A trendy cocktail bar with a rooftop terrace, suitable for couples and groups.
- The Bullock Bar: A popular pub with live music and a dance floor, suitable for singles and groups.
- Water Bar: A lakefront bar with a deck and live music, suitable for couples and groups.
- Mint Bar: A nightclub with DJs and live music, suitable for singles and groups.
- Rhyme & Reason Brewery: A craft brewery with a taproom and food trucks, suitable for families and groups.
- The Wanaka Speights Ale House: A casual pub with a beer garden and sports on TV, suitable for families and groups.
These bars and nightlife options above offer a range of experiences for different budgets and preferences, from cozy pubs to trendy cocktail bars, and from family-friendly venues to adult-focused nightclubs.
It’s recommended to check for any age restrictions or other requirements for bars and nightlife options.
Other Things To Do When Skiing in Wanaka:
There are many other things to do in Wanaka besides skiing and snowboarding. Here are some popular tourist attractions and activities in the area, with their website URLs:
- Puzzling World: A unique attraction featuring optical illusions, a maze, and a sculpture park. Website: https://www.puzzlingworld.co.nz/
- Wanaka Lavender Farm: A scenic lavender farm with gardens, a gift shop, and a cafe. Website: https://www.wanakalavenderfarm.com/
- Wanaka Beerworks: A craft brewery offering tours and tastings. Website: https://wanakabeerworks.co.nz/
- Wanaka Transport and Toy Museum: A museum featuring vintage cars, toys, and other memorabilia. Website: http://www.toyandtransport.co.nz/
- Rippon Vineyard: A scenic winery with tastings and events. Website: https://www.rippon.co.nz/
- National Transport and Toy Museum: A museum featuring vintage cars, toys, and other memorabilia. Website: https://www.nttmuseumwanaka.co.nz/
- Wanaka Cinema: A boutique cinema showing the latest movies. Website: https://www.cinemaparadiso.co.nz/
- Warbirds and Wheels: A museum featuring classic cars and airplanes. Website: https://www.warbirdsandwheels.com/
- Cardrona Distillery: A craft distillery offering tours and tastings. Website: https://www.cardronadistillery.com/
- Treble Cone Scenic Chairlift: A chairlift ride with stunning views of the Southern Alps. Website: https://www.treblecone.com/scenic-chairlift-rides/
These attractions and activities offer a range of experiences for different interests and budgets.
And if you are brave enough we dare you to have a swim in the lake!
How to Get to Wanaka?
Wanaka is located on the South Island of New Zealand, and there are a few options to get there from the country’s most popular inbound airports, train, and bus stations.
- From Queenstown Airport: Queenstown is the nearest airport to Wanaka, located about 1-hour drive away. There are several options for transportation from Queenstown to Wanaka, including renting a car, taking a shuttle bus, or using a taxi service.
- From Christchurch Airport: Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city and has the most international flights. The drive from Christchurch to Wanaka takes about 6 hours, and there are several rental car companies available at the airport.
- From Dunedin Airport: Dunedin is another airport on the South Island, located about 3 hours drive from Wanaka. Car rental and shuttle services are available at the airport.
- From Christchurch Train Station: If you prefer to take the train, the TranzAlpine train operates a daily service from Christchurch to Greymouth, which is located about 3 hours’ drive from Wanaka. From Greymouth, you can rent a car or take a bus to Wanaka.
- From Auckland or Wellington Bus Stations: There are several bus companies that operate services from Auckland or Wellington to Queenstown, which is located about 1-hour drive from Wanaka. Once you reach Queenstown, you can rent a car or take a shuttle bus to Wanaka.
The ski resorts of Wanaka cater to a diverse range of skiers and snowboarders, from beginners to experts, and offer a wide range of terrain to explore. Whether you are looking for gentle slopes to learn on or challenging off-piste terrain, you are sure to find something to suit your style and ability, not to mention experience some of the best scenery, people and adventures of a lifetime!