Snow-covered mountains, lush green hills, a massive lake, Wanaka is an amazing family destination in New Zealand, just a short 1-hour drive away from Queenstown! Unspoiled, stunningly beautiful and a great holiday destination all-year-round, you and the kids are bound to have an unforgettable time here in Wanaka. Find yourself the perfect family home in the centre of town and off you go, exploring all the highlights, viewpoints and family activities. Travelling to Wanaka with kids? Here are 10 family activities in Wanaka for a wonderful holiday.
1. Family fun at Lake Wanaka
Beautiful Lake Wanaka is the main attraction point in this lovely tourist town. As expected, most of the activities and tours are happening on and around this enormous lake. Indeed, Lake Wanaka is one heavenly playground for families with kids and the views are breathtaking! There is an endless list of things to see, do a and explore at Lake Wanaka. You can spend days on end around without getting bored for even 1 minute. If the views aren’t enough for you, a plunge in the lake will do! If you’re done with the plunging (no, that will never happen!), you can go lake kayaking or head out for a fishing trip. Get a picnic basket ready and stroll down to the lake from your private Wanaka Villa and there you have it, the most idyllic family picnic imaginable!
2. Get puzzled at Puzzling World
Get those little smart heads all puzzled and confused at Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World – a famous tourist attraction in Wanaka and world’s one and only 3D maze. This self-called ‘wonderful world of weirdness’ features a massive maze to get lost in and unique, bewildering things such as towers that appear to be falling over and dazzling illusions rooms. Not only the kids but also you will be perplexed and intrigued. On top of that, you get to take some really cool, unique family photos. The maze is 1.5 kilometres long and to solve it, you’ll get to do quite some walking, alright! (there are different levels of difficulty). The Hall of Following Faces is another wonderous place. You will get the faces of Einstein, Mother Theresa, Lincoln, Van Gogh and more legends throughout the history of mankind staring at you directly – or so it seems…
Address: 188 Wanaka-Luggate Hwy, Wanaka 9382, New Zealand
Contact:+64 3 443 7489
Opening hours: every day from 8.30 am – 5.30 pm
Fees: for the complete package the price is NZD$22.69/adult and NZD$16/child. The family package (2 adults & 2 kids) costs NZD$69.00
3. Wanaka Lavender Farm
A stunning place, a scenting place and a peaceful place, Wanaka Lavender Farm cannot be missing on your travel itinerary with the family. This place up in the hills is absolutely stunning (yes, it is yet another place where the stunningness of nature blows you away). Wanaka Lavander Farm features 10 acres of purple lavender fields and they’ve also got an on-site honey farm too. Interesting and educational at the same time for you and the kids! Furthermore, your little ones will love the local farm residents: the highland cows Mily & Kristen, Koko the Pig and all of the sheep, alpacas and chickens. You can try homemade lavender ice cream and shop for handmade natural lavender products such as essential oils, body lotion and more. Take your time to wander through the fields and don’t forget to bring your camera! These fields are super Instagrammable, great for some family photos and selfies!
Wanaka Lavender Farm
Address: 36 Morris Rd, Wanaka 9382, New Zealand
Contact: +64 3 443 6359
Opening hours: every day from 9 am – 5 pm
Fees from March to November: NZD$5/adult, NZD$2/child (5 – 15 years old). Children below 5 years old are free.
Fees from December – February: NZD$10/adult, NZD$5/child (5 – 15 years old). Children below 5 years old are free.
Tips: Wanaka Lavender Farm is just a short distance away from Puzzling World (map below), so you can easily combine 2 attractions in 1 trip!
4. Snow fun
So, yes! New Zealand, and in particular Wanaka, is an amazing holiday destination all year round! When winter has arrived and the cold starts to kick in, it is not time to stay inside and sit by the fire, it is time to go have some family snow fun (and cuddle up by the fire afterwards!). In Wanaka, there are 3 large ski areas and all of them offer family packages. Take your pick between Snow Farm, Treble Cone and Cardrona. The last one tops it all as they’ve got excellent adult and kids programmes as well as a nursery and childcare centre. Kids from as little as 3 years old can already join the fun. Snow farm features a Snow Fun Zone, costing only NZD$10/day where kids can play all day long, making snowmen, tubing and sliding in the snow. Check out their family ski programmes here.
Snow farm NZ
Address: Snow Farm Access Rd, Cardrona Valley Rd, Wanaka 9381
Contact: +64 3 443 7542
Address: Cardrona Valley Rd, Cardrona 9305, New Zealand
Contact: +64 3 443 8880
Address: Mt Aspiring Road, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand
Contact: +64 3 443 1406
5. Boat cruise to Mou Waho Island
Mou Waho is a protected nature reserve, part of Mount Aspiring National Park and the island sits in the middle of Wanaka Lake. You can only get to the island by boat. Now, who doesn’t love a 30-minute boat cruise through the staggering natural beauty of Wanaka, New Zealand? As you hike up to the highest point (a lovely easy stroll – not hard at all!), you will pass Arethusa Pool viewpoint, which is a small lake with little islands inside and it is stunning to see! On the way, you can spot the famous Kiwi Bird and once you’ve reached your destination, you can enjoy a family picnic or sit on the Instagramable rock that is funnily shaped like an armchair. The best spot to take in those views! Visiting Mou Waho Island is one of the most wonderful family day trips you can imagine. Don’t miss out!
6. Rock climbing @ Wanaka Basecamp
For all families with kids 3 years and above, your family rock climbing adventure can start right here in Wanaka. Wanaka Basecamp features colourful indoor rock climbing walls and they can also take you on your first outdoor climbing adventure with the kids. Overcome fears, learn new things and have an amazing time. Indoors is fun and outdoors is addictive! The half-day outdoor climbing family package for 2 adults and 2 children costs NZD$499 and it will be an unforgettable experience for all of you!
Address: 50 Cardrona Valley Rd, Wanaka 9381, New Zealand
Contact: +64 3-443 1110
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 12 pm 8 pm an Saturday & Sundays from 10 am – 6 pm
7. Wanaka Dinosaur Park
Surrounded by hills and trees, lies this idyllic lakefront outdoor playground inspired by dinosaurs. Wanaka Dinosaur Park boasts the most amazing views of the lake and the fairytale-like snow-covered mountains around the lake. There are picnic tables situated around the playground and there are grassy lawns to run around on. Kids can play here hours, sliding down the back of dinosaurs, climbing and having fun on the swings and seesaw. Bring a blanket and some food and drinks for a lovely family day by the lakeside. Parents won’t get enough of those awe-inspiring views that made you want to pack up and move to Wanaka. This fun lakeside Dinosaur playground gives parents a well-deserved break, sharing a bottle of wine to the lake views. Kids will be running around in a safe environment, making new friends and having the time of their lives. Now ain’t that all you need? Nearby, there are toilets and there is a nappy changing room, as well. All perfectly family-orientated.
Wanaka Dinosaur Park
Address: 5 Lakeside Rd, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand
8. Cinema Paradiso
Kids are always thrilled to go see a movie at the cinema, but watching a movie at Cinema Paradiso in Wanaka is a whole new experience for the whole family to adore. Classy, old style, cosy and utterly charming, Cinema Paradiso bursts with old-age charm. This movie theatre has got only 3 screens, very comfy retro sofas and there is a great in-cinema chef who bakes homemade cookies for the family to munch on. Meals are served before, during and after the movie like in the old days and they’ve got homemade ice cream, too! Check the movie schedule here.
Address: 72 Brownston St, Wanaka 9434, New Zealand
Contact: +64 3-443 1505
Ticket prices: NZD$15/adult & NZD$9.50/child
9. Wanaka Skate Park
If your kids love to be outdoors and especially if they are into skateboarding, Wanaka Skate Park is a slice of heaven! The lakefront location is just splendid and it is a lively place for kids to make friends and moms and dads to interact (if not too distracted by the views of the lake and snowy mountains, that is!).
Wanaka Skate Park
Address: 163 Ardmore St, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand
10. Horse riding
Horse riding is part of every kid’s dream and when the horse riding takes place in stunning natural surroundings like Wanaka, a true family adventure is about to take place! There are different horse treks available. The Lord-of-the-Rings surroundings, the wind in your hair, horse riding in Wanaka is probably one of the most amazing horse riding experiences you’ll ever come across upon! These precious moments shared with the kids are irreplaceable. Moments to cherish forever and ever! How about riding through the Cardrona Valley? Backcountry Saddle Expeditions offers beautiful 2-hour horse riding treks all year round and this company is great for families with kids.
Backcountry Saddle Expeditions
Address: 2130 Cardrona Valley Road RD2, Cardrona, Wanaka 9392, New Zealand
Contact: +64 3 443 8151
Opening hours: every day from 9 am to 4 pm
Prices: NZD$95/adult & NZD$75/child for a 2-hour trek.