New Zealand – Top Five Things To Do In Wanaka This Winter

June 2nd, 2020
Spectacular views ands early morning corduroy turns in Treble Cone – another good reason to visit Wanaka. Photo: Treble Cone

 Mountainwatch | Luke Kneller

As we wait for news as to whether the Trans Tasman Bubble will open this winter, we thought we’d give you something to day-dream about with our pick for the top five things to do in Wanaka, one of our favourite NZ destinations. 


 Located in the heart of the Southern Alps of New Zealand and boasting Australasia’s largest skiable terrain, Wanaka really is the place to be. Three diverse ski resorts all within 40 minutes – plus incredible heli-skiing. With wide open ski trails, challenging steeps, extensive terrain parks, pipes‚ powder stashes, spectacular views and over 50 kilometres of cross-country trails, it’s pretty hard to believe it’s only a three-hour flight away.


An epic day with Harris Mountains heli ski, September 2019. Photo: High Harris Mountains Heli-ski


Do we need to say more? Just do it. You won’t regret it. Just to sweeten the deal, though, Wanaka has the largest heli-ski terrain in the Southern Hemisphere thanks to Southern Lakes and Harris Mountain Heli-Ski. Guaranteed good snow and good times.


Jossi Wells, at home in the Cardrona terrain park which attracts the world’s best riders each winter.Photo: Mark Clinton

Cardrona x Treble Cone

Does it get any better?  A pass that covers 2 of the best mountains in the Southern hemisphere. Cardrona and Treble Cone are the yin to each other’s yang – Cardrona combines old-school mountain-town vibes with new-age park terrain and facilities. A mountain where both first timers and Olympians feel at home. Beloved by locals and visitors, Treble Cone (TC) is known for breeding freeride skiers who dominate on the world stage. The South Island’s largest ski area, Treble Cone is famous for its lengthy runs, legendary off-piste terrain and stunning views over Lake Wanaka. Single and multi-day passes, are available for use at both mountains.



Try A Local Craft Beer

Wanaka has always had a world-class reputation for excellent wine, and now thanks to some entrepreneurial start-ups, beer lovers are also well-catered for. The craft beer scene has taken off in Wanaka with six local breweries; B.Effect, Ground Up, Maverick, Rhyme & Reason, Sidewinder and Wanaka Beer Works. A visit to Rhyme & Reason after a day on the slopes is a must. Located just two minutes from the heart of Wanaka, this new brewery has a relaxed industrial vibe. Grab a pint from the ever-changing extensive list and enjoy!


Keep It Low Key For Dinner

Too shattered to shower? No problem, just leave your snow gear on and head to Brownston Street where you’ll find a great selection of food trucks serving up some gourmet options. There’s Mexican street food at Burrito Craft, fresh homemade soups served with The People’s Bread Co. sourdough at Dripping Bowl, vegetarian-friendly Asian/Indian fusion at Buddha’s Corner, and wood-fired pizza classics Francesca’s Pizza.


Take A Down Day

For a small-town, Wanaka has a huge selection of boutique stores that stock everything from sophisticated high fashion and streetwear through to specialist suppliers that offer the very best in outdoor clothing and equipment. Had enough retail therapy? Then make sure to check out Cinema Paradiso (the halftime cookies are to die for…), indoor rock-climbing, driving ranges, puzzling worlds, or go to one of the local vineyards or distillery for some tastings.

Wanaka is an experience that you won’t soon forget. Check out the Mountainwatch travel page for details on Wanaka packages.


Arkie Elliss, September powder with Harris Mountain hili-ski.

For more info on Wanaka check out our Mountainwatch Guide to Wanaka

Cardrona snow forecasts here 

Cardrona snow cams here

Treble Cone snow forecast here

Treble Cone snow cams here