Answers to some of those frequently asked questions about Wānaka


Where is Wānaka?
Wānaka is in the lower South Island region of New Zealand, an hour drive from Queenstown

It is on the main driving route down the West Coast across the Haast Pass - the southernmost road crossing of the Southern Alps.

How do I get to Wānaka?

If flying the closest airport to Wānaka is Queenstown Airport. There are rental cars and regular shuttle services from the airport to Wānaka. Christchurch and Dunedin Airports are further away however, bus services are also available to Wānaka from both those destinations.

If driving, then Wānaka can be reached via the West Coast  route on SH6, via the Inland Route past Aoraki / Mt Cook, via Central Otago from Dunedin and up from Fiordland through Queenstown.

When is the best time to visit Wānaka?

Winter for skiing, summer for swimming and boating, autumn for the colours and spring is everything, ski, bike and walk all in one day.

Are there any special events on in Wānaka?
Yes – check out our Annual events page.

What weather can I expect?
Check our seasons page to see what to expect and the weather page to see what's happening now. For a detailed weather report check out the Met Service forecasts

What should I wear in Wānaka?
Wānaka is a very casual town so unless it’s a special occasion you won’t need formal clothes. Active wear is a good idea as you’ll be walking, biking and generally doing outdoor based things. In the winter, you’ll want warm clothes – a good winter jacket, hats and mittens.


Where can I ski in Wānaka? 
Wānaka has four ski areas all within 45 minutes from  the town centre. Treble Cone Ski Area and Cardrona Alpine Resort are downhill mountains and Snow Farm is the only cross-country ski area in NZ. Soho Basin is a private ski area offering cat skiing. We also have several heli-ski operators.

Which mountain is best for beginners?
Both Treble Cone and Cardrona have beginner slopes, but Cardrona has the biggest learners’ area. It also has some great progressive runs, so you can work your up to more difficult terrains. This is particularly beneficial after building up your confidence with a day of lessons.

Don’t forget that Snow Farm is also great for those who want to try their hand at cross-country skiing – and they have a many kilometres of beginner terrain.

Cardrona Alpine Resort:
Downhill skiing & snowboarding plus terrain park
25% Beginner, 25% Intermediate, 30% Advanced & 20% Expert

Treble Cone Ski Area:
Downhill skiing & snowboarding
10% Beginner, 45% Intermediate & 45% Advanced

Snow Farm:
Cross country skiing & snow shoeing
40% Beginner, 20% Intermediate & 40% Advanced 

Soho Basin:
Private ski area offering a personalised day out for low-intermediate to advanced skiers and boarders. No chairlifts just state-of-the-art snow-cats
264 hectares and 500+ vertical metres of pristine high-country terrain

I don’t ski. What can I do up the mountain?
You can try snowshoeing or go up for a scenic chairlift ride. Lunch or coffee at base makes for an epic view. And don’t forget about dinner and stargazing!

Once you’re done all that, maybe try a first-timers ski package – you wouldn’t be the first one to unexpectedly fall in love with the mountains.

I don’t have a car that can get up the mountain roads. What do I do?
Both mountains offer parking at the base of the mountain and a bus ride up for a fee. There are also shuttles from town up the mountain.

What kind of off-mountain activities are there to do?
There are lots of local activities off the mountain! Climb a waterfall via ferrata, explore the wilderness on a horse trek, hiking tour, guided fishing trip or kayak. Get pedalling with a bike tour or at Bike Glendhu. Take to the skies with parasailing, a scenic helicopter ride or a scenic flight to Milford Sound from Wānaka. Try some of our world-class wine on a wine tour. Visit our friendly team at the i-SITE and they’ll point you in the right direction!


Where should I stay?
We can help with that! How many people are you with? How many nights do you want to stay? What’s your budget and what style of accommodation are you after?

While we’re at it, are you needing ski passes, lessons, rentals or transport? What about extra activities or dining? Our team can help organize everything for you! Go on, click that little message bubble in the bottom right corner of your screen, we’ll take the hassle out of it for you.

Where can I camp in Wānaka?
There is a great variety of campgrounds and areas where you are permitted to camp. Only fully self-contained vehicles may freedom camp where indicated. For more information, check out this “Where can I camp?” page.

Where is the closest airport to Wānaka?
Wānaka airport is 10 minutes from town and has scenic and charter flights, the nearest domestic and international airport is Queenstown Airport which is 60 minutes away. See our flights to Wānaka and buses to Wānaka page.

Where can I get information about walking in Wānaka?
There are good maps and brochures available online or once you arrive in Wanaka. We also have a Wānaka Tracks App which will help you choose which is the best track for your walk or ride.

Maps are available from the Wānaka i-SITE Visitor Centre and the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre. Always check weather and road conditions before heading out on a long walk.

I want to go hiking. Which is the best track for me?
With over 750km of tracks around the Wānaka region, deciding which track is the best for you is not easy. Read this article which helps you to decide and download the "Wānaka Track App" from the App and Android store

Do I need a fishing license to fish in Wānaka?
Yes – if you are fishing for trout or salmon in the lakes and rivers around Wānaka, then a license is necessary. Some rivers are closed at certain times of the year for spawning and others are permanently closed. Check the sports shops for licenses and information.

When and where is the Farmers Market?
Wānaka Artisan Market is on every Thursday 3 – 6pm opposite the lakefront at the east end of town, next to Bullock Creek and the Speights Ale House.  

Is there public transport around Wānaka?
In short, no. But there are shuttle services to Puzzling World and Raspberry Creek Carpark, as well as to some of our more popular tracks.

Are there supermarkets in Wānaka?
Yes, there is are two New Worlds and two Four Squares plus a number of speciality food stores.

Are there free things to do in Wānaka?
You bet! There are lots of walksbike rides and other free activities that you can do. Check out the 10 Free Things to do in Wānaka

What can you do on a rainy day in Wānaka?
Even on a rainy day there's plenty of things to keep everyone happy and busy all day. Remember there is no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothing - so be prepared for any weather! Check out the 10 Things to do on a Rainy Day

What are the facts and figures on Wānaka?
Check out this page for information on the population of the area, the lakes and rivers and tourism statistics.