Five Reasons Why Wanaka NZ Is The Place To Be This Winter

There’s no two ways about it: Wanaka, NZ is achingly beautiful during the winter months, when snow-capped mountains reflect off the glistening lake. Many visitors feel like they could stay in Wanaka for a lifetime and still not discover everything this part of New Zealand has to offer. If you’ve got just a short holiday planned this winter, there are still plenty of fun Wanaka attractions to check out.

Here are five reasons why Wanaka is the best place to be in winter:

  • Easy access to two of New Zealand’s best ski fields (plus New Zealand’s only cross-country ski resort)
  • Snow play options for non-skiers to experience the snow
  • A vibrant town center with great cafes, restaurants, and bars
  • Within a short drive of many top New Zealand sights
  • Countless indoor and outdoor activities perfect for winter

Read on to learn more about why Wanaka NZ is the place to be in winter.

Why you should visit Wanaka NZ this winter

1. Easy access to two of New Zealand’s best ski fields (plus New Zealand’s only cross-country ski resort)

snowboarding treble cone ski field wanaka skiing nz ski
Treble Cone Ski Field in Wanaka

The Wanaka ski resorts are:

  • Cardrona Alpine Resort
  • Treble Cone Ski Field
  • Snow Farm (cross-country skiing)

Cardrona Alpine Resort is the best New Zealand ski field for families and beginners. The ski field boasts extensive beginner and intermediate terrain, flexible lesson options, and childcare for all ages. Cardrona Alpine Resort is just a 35-minute drive from Wanaka.

Treble Cone covers the opposite end of the spectrum, with challenging terrain and plenty of off-piste runs. This is the largest ski area in the South Island, located just 30 minutes from Wanaka.

And for those who want a different ski experience, Snow Farm is New Zealand’s only cross-country ski area. Situated on a ridge across the valley from Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Farm covers gentle, rolling terrain.

2. Snow play options for non-skiers to experience the snow

If this is your first time seeing snow, Wanaka is the perfect place to be. Snow doesn’t fall in New Zealand towns very often, so you’ll need to drive up a mountain to find it.

Where is there snow in Wanaka?

You can find snow at any of the three local ski fields: Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone, and Snow Farm. Of these three, Snow Farm is the best place for non-skiers to experience the snow.

Snow Farm offers a wide range of activities for non-skiers to enjoy:

  • Tubing
  • Snow play in the “Snow Fun Zone”
  • Dog sledding
  • Snowshoeing

All ages will have a great time playing around in the snow at Snow Farm.

In addition, Cardrona Alpine Resort offers sightseeing passes for their “chondola,” which has gondola carriages for non-skiers. You can ride the chondola to the top of the mountain to enjoy sweeping views towards Queenstown.

3. Wanaka NZ has a vibrant town center with plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars

trout wanaka restaurant new zealand
Views from Trout Bar & Restaurant Wanaka

In winter, sometimes the best thing to do is cozy up by a roaring fire and enjoy a delicious meal or a glass of wine. Though Wanaka is small, the town boasts numerous excellent places to eat and drink.

Read about our favorite restaurants in Wanaka here.

And for families, the town center is much more laid-back and welcoming than Queenstown. Wanaka is exciting and vibrant, but without Queenstown’s over-the-top party scene.

4. Wanaka NZ is within a short drive of many top sights

Situated in the heart of the South Island, Wanaka is perfectly placed for exploring nearby highlights. Some of the top scenic drives in Wanaka include:

  • Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Haast Pass
  • Aoraki/Mt Cook and Tasman Glacier
  • Kawarau Gorge
  • Crown Range Road
  • Arrowtown

In addition, Wanaka is just an hour’s drive from Queenstown–and Queenstown Airport. In other words, you can fly into Queenstown and split your winter stay between Wanaka and Queenstown with very little hassle.

5. Countless indoor and outdoor activities perfect for winter

wanaka tree new zealand travel

On a sunny winter day, the outdoors beckon. Follow the Millennium Walkway along the lakefront to the famous Wanaka Tree, climb Mt Iron for panoramic views over Lake Wanaka, or take a lake cruise to one of the nearby wildlife sanctuary islands.

And if the weather isn’t nice, choose from these fun indoor activities and attractions to do when it rains:

With this list of Wanaka attractions, you’re bound to enjoy this picturesque town and all it has to offer. So grab your parka, wool socks, and warmest gloves for a winter adventure of a lifetime.


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