Wanaka
Nature & Adventure

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Our most recommended Wanaka Nature & Adventure

Wanaka: Jet Boat Ride on Clutha River

1. Wanaka: Jet Boat Ride on Clutha River

Experience the water like never have before on a jet boat adventure in Wanaka. Skim across shallow water, over sand bars, through rapids, and around rocks at speeds in excess of 80 kilometers per hour. Departing from Wanaka’s waterfront, enjoy a short jaunt across the lake taking in stunning snow-capped mountain views, and prepare to enter one of the world’s swiftest-flowing rivers, the Clutha River.  Of course, a jet boat ride wouldn’t be complete without the iconic Hamilton Spin, a high-speed maneuver causing the boat to spin rapidly on the spot. Your expert driver will raise your adrenalin, demonstrating the maneuverability of the jet boat and pushing it to its absolute limits, safely and skillfully navigating you on an unforgettable adventure.

Wanaka: Scenic Flight with Glacier Landing

2. Wanaka: Scenic Flight with Glacier Landing

To begin your helicopter adventure, take the scenic drive out of Wanaka to the Matukituki Valley. Check-in at the hangar located on Cattle Flat Station, a fully operational working high-country farm. Before you set off into the sky, you’ll receive a safety briefing prior from your expert pilot. All helicopters are fitted with two-way headsets to ensure you can interact with your pilot, as well as enjoy their entertaining commentary during this 35-minute experience. Soaring into the sky, fly over the tussock-covered hills of the farm and into the alps over remote mountain peaks, covered with deep, glacial-carved valleys. Gaze at the otherworldly landscape, with its deep blue chasms and stunning glacial caps. Landing high on a glacier overlooking the Alps, you’ll enjoy a photo stop with guaranteed snow year round prior to returning to the hangar. Marvel at the panoramic views over the braided Matukituki River, flowing towards Lake Wanaka, before you gracefully float back down to the landing strip.

Lake Wanaka Happy Hour Cruise

3. Lake Wanaka Happy Hour Cruise

Set off on a 1-hour cruise on Lake Wanaka to enjoy crystal-clear waters and beautiful scenery. The perfect end to a great day or the perfect beginning to a great night. Cruise down the Wanaka waterfront and over toward the famous Lone Tree before tracking up to Waterfall Creek and Ruby Island. Head across to Stevensons Peninsula before returning via Beacon Point and Eley Point. Don't forget to bring your camera and take pictures while cruising to remember this relaxing experience.  As you cruise along, enjoy a local wine or beer on your cruise, included in the ticket. The cruise is fully licensed and further drinks can be purchased on board.

Stevensons Island 2-Hour Cruise and Nature Walk

4. Stevensons Island 2-Hour Cruise and Nature Walk

Embark on a leisurely 40-minute cruise among spectacular mountain scenery to Stevensons Peninsula and then into Stevensons Arm, home to the Mount Burke high country sheep station. Rolling green pastures precede Mount Gold and Mount Burke which rise majestically into the Eastern skyline. Relax in comfort as you cruise to Stevensons Island for a beach landing. Your guide will take you ashore via the front loading ramp for a short hike to the summit of the Island. Stevensons Island is an inspiration for photographers. On return, complete your experience with afternoon tea and another 40-minute scenic cruise back to the Wanaka waterfront.

Wanaka: Tandem Skydive Experience 9,000, 12,000 or 15,000-ft

5. Wanaka: Tandem Skydive Experience 9,000, 12,000 or 15,000-ft

Skydiving is a must-do and Wanaka is the most stunning place to tick it off your bucket list. Admire some of New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery and picturesque landscapes as you freefall from above at 200kph. Your experience starts when you walk in the door and meet the awesome frontline crew. Receive a full briefing and gear up. Before you know it, you’ll be meeting your tandem instructor and climbing into the plane for the incredible scenic flight to altitude. During your 20-minute flight over the Southern Alps, your instructor will point out Mt. Cook, Mt. Aspiring, the Southern Alps, a number of lakes and the Clutha River. Once you’ve reached your chosen altitude, it’s time to leap. Experience the pure adrenaline rush of freefalling at 200kph above the stunning Central Otago landscape. After 25 to 60-seconds of freefall, catch your breath and enjoy the smooth flight under canopy safely back down to the drop zone. Back on the ground, tears of joy, smiles, hugs and fist pumps are all the norm. Make your way back to the hanger to be de-geared then await your edited video and photos. Once your video is done plug it into the computer, gather around your friends and family and relive the moments all over again.

Wanaka: 1.5-hour Beginner Iron Road Waterfall Climb

6. Wanaka: 1.5-hour Beginner Iron Road Waterfall Climb

Enjoy a thrilling 1.5-hour introduction to ‘via ferrata’ or ‘iron road’ climbing. This unique experience uses cable, iron rungs, pegs, bridges, and ladders, allowing you to climb routes that may not have been accessible otherwise.  Start your journey in Wanaka town center where you will meet your friendly and experienced guides. Embark on a short 20-minute ride in a minibus through the stunning countryside around Wanaka, to the location of The Twin Falls Waterfalls. After a safety briefing, grab your helmets and harness and prepare for a practice climb over a small rock at the base of the waterfall. Once you have mastered the practice route, join an intimate group of no more than 4 people per guide - ensuring your safety throughout the experience. After a short walk up to the cliffs, the real fun begins. On this beginner route, spend approximately 1 hour scaling vertical and horizontal rock climbs, crossing suspension bridges over pools and discovering hidden waterfalls. At the end of this trail, take the opportunity to stop for a small snack and drink, admiring the stunning panoramic views over farmland, mountains, and Lake Wanaka. If you feel like you're climbing journey is over, begin a 20-minute descent back down the mountain to the base of the waterfall. Your wonderful guides will assist you with your equipment and drive you back to Wanaka Town Centre in the minibus.

Wanaka: Water Taxi & Mou Waho Island Tour

7. Wanaka: Water Taxi & Mou Waho Island Tour

Hop aboard a comfortable water taxi and make your way to Mou Waho Island. Along the way, your tour guide will explain the island's unique geology and history. Of the Lake Wanaka’s 5 islands, Mou Waho is the most remote and the most beautiful. Once there, you will have 1.5 hours to yourself to enjoy this special place. Hike 20 minutes to the island’s hidden lake. Created by glacial action thousands of years ago, this secluded lake contains an island itself. This island is known as the “island on a lake, on an island on a lake on an island in the sea.” (Close your eyes and visualize that for a moment). Walk 5 minutes from the hidden lake to reach Tyrwhitt Peak, the highest point on the island. From the top of the peak take in the luscious panorama of lakes and jagged peaks. Witness the diverse bird life of this predator-free nature reserve. See the elegant kereru (wood Pidgeon), the adorable korimako (bellbird), the delightful Tomtit, and the Weka. Wekas are charismatic birds that disappeared from the mainland of New Zealand but were introduced to these islands as a part of a breeding program in 2002. When you spot one, stop and say hello. These birds are particularly charismatic and cheeky characters and are often attracted to human interaction. Relax on the island’s small sheltered beach. Cool off with a swim in the waters of Lake Wanaka before taking the water taxi back to Wanaka.

Wanaka: Self Guided Bike Tour from Lake Hawea to Lake Wanaka

8. Wanaka: Self Guided Bike Tour from Lake Hawea to Lake Wanaka

Get the most bang for your buck as you experience the most popular of any bike trip in Wanaka. Start your journey in Wanaka Town center where you will meet the experienced team to get you fitted for your equipment and receive a comprehensive safety briefing. Then, enjoy a leisurely shuttle from downtown Wanaka to the neighboring lakeside town of Hawea. Feel free to grab a coffee from a local cafe before setting out on the Hawea River Track, an easy riverside amble set in mountainous surroundings. Pass by Albert Town, where there are a few places to grab a refreshment, before continuing along the mighty Clutha River towards its source at Lake Wanaka. A picturesque lakeside trail will lead you back to Wanaka township, where ice cream and the famous Wanaka Tree await. After arriving back to Wanaka, extend your ride with a visit to Rippon Vineyard at your leisure. This is an exceptional ride offering great value for money. Upgrade your trip to an e-bike for an easier ride.

Wanaka: Scenic Flight around Mt Aspiring & Glaciers

9. Wanaka: Scenic Flight around Mt Aspiring & Glaciers

Start the tour with a scenic drive out of Wanaka to the Matukituki Valley. Check-in at the hangar located on Cattle Flat Station, a fully operational working high-country farm. Receive a safety briefing prior to boarding your helicopter. Fly over the tussock covered hills of the farm and into the Southern Alps over remote mountain peaks with deep glacial carved valleys and year-round glaciers. Get up close to Mt Aspiring, the highest peak in the country outside Mt Cook National Park. On a good day, you can see all the way to the ocean and all the way to Mt Cook. Enjoy 2 separate remote alpine landings with the opportunity to take photos with spectacular backdrops. For most of the year, one of the landings will be on snow (not guaranteed). All helicopters are fitted with 2-way headsets to ensure you can interact with your pilot as well as enjoy their entertaining commentary during this 1-hour experience.

From Wanaka: Ruby Island 1-Hour Cruise and Photo Walk

10. From Wanaka: Ruby Island 1-Hour Cruise and Photo Walk

Take a relaxing cruise out to Ruby Island and enjoy a guided walk of the island with many incredible photo opportunities. The grade is easy, suitable for children and seniors. A luxury catamaran will guide you ashore on Ruby Island via a hydraulic bow ramp. Discover the intriguing history dating back to the days of prohibition. Often called the jewel of Wanaka, Ruby is small but very photogenic. The eclectic mix of exotic and native plants adds a foreground to the colors of the lake and the mountains behind. After your walk, return to the vessel for the short cruise back to the Wanaka waterfront.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Wanaka

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What people are saying about Wanaka

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 25 reviews

We had a wonderful flight. We had booked for the full 60 mins, but it was too windy to go all the way up to Mt Aspiring. So we just got to Dragons peak. A refund for the difference promptly arrived into our bank account. This was our first helicopter flight, so we didnt know what to expect. It was very warm (2 couples + pilot) in the helicopter, so didnt need to rug up as much as we did. Very scenic and enjoyable. It was great looking at things from a different perspective.

Thoroughly enjoyed the trip out to the island. Was very impressed with the extra work put in trying to find a solution to weather .

Great way to spend the last hours of daylight, the scenery was amazing and also the crew.

Beautiful lake ride and island Perfect way to spend a afternoon

Great jet boat ride adapted for weather conditions.