20 things to do in Wanaka this winter

31st May 2019

Winter in Wanaka – July to September

Wanaka is a buzzing winter resort town that offers endless opportunities for you to get out and enjoy the landscape and the snow on the surrounding mountains. With four ski areas to choose from (Cardrona, Treble Cone, Snow Farm and Soho Basin) your options are endless. Whether you want to ski on a private field, go cross-country skiing, or check out the main ski fields there is a mountain to suit everyone. The team at MajorDomo can help you organise all of your snow activities from in-house ski fittings, to ski passes, heli-ski trips and more!

It doesn’t matter if you are an avid snow lover, prefer food and wine, or enjoy tiki-touring around the countryside there is something for everyone in Wanaka during winter. In no particular order, we have listed 20 of the best things to do in and around Wanaka this winter…

1. Treble Cone / Cardrona (Ski Resorts)  

Wanaka is perfectly positioned for you to easily access both Treble Cone and Cardrona ski resorts, which are two of the best ski resorts in the country!  Treble Cone is, the South Island’s largest ski and snowboard resort, featuring the longest vertical of all Wanaka/Queenstown area ski fields and has legendary off-piste terrain. Cardrona Alpine Resort attracts all kinds of snow enthusiasts – from beginners & families, to Olympic & X Games athletes. Wide, open trails offer some of NZ’s best snow conditions, groomed to perfection by a modern & innovative snow management system.

2. Heli-Skiing/Boarding 

 If you would like something a little more remote so you can enjoy some freshies and make your own tracks, we can help you organise a private heli-skiing/boarding experience. 

3. Soho Basin 

For the ultimate alpine experience Soho Basin is where real back country riding meets understated luxury. Their private ski area offers pristine high-country terrain, world-class views and gourmet dining in an atmosphere of relaxed and understated luxury. They combine the fun and adventure of an alpine off-piste experience with the ease and creature comforts of luxury ski resorts.

4. Snow Shoeing 

Get away from the crowds with a unique snowshoeing adventure with Base Camp Wanaka. Get off the beaten track and enjoy great views, gentle terrain, and the feeling of being completely remote.

5. Scenic helicopter flight 

Take in the spectacular snow-capped mountains and sweeping views of Lake Wanaka from up above with a scenic helicopter flight.

6. Boutique Food & Wine Tour 

Central Otago is very well known internationally as producing some of the most celebrated wines in the world and Wanaka is the perfect place to discover these. Lots of local Wanaka businesses offer private and custom wine tours, even in the winter months. Check out Wanaka Wine Tours to enquire about a boutique wine and food tour.

7. Cardrona Hotel

Situated on the spectacular Crown Range Road Cardona Hotel is an iconic New Zealand hotel. Its rustic charm, amazing mountain setting and rich history makes this hotel the perfect place to spend an afternoon enjoying a mulled wine, and a hot lunch on the comfy leather couches in-front of the roaring fire.  

8. Cardona Distillery 

While you are in Cardona Valley, it is definitely worth making a stop at the Cardona Distillery, which is a family-owned and operated distillery that prides itself on making hand-crafted whisky, gin, vodka and liqueurs. Take a tour to learn about the spirit making process and get the opportunity to taste some of these tasty locally made spirits. 

9. Bradrona 

While exploring Cardrona you can’t miss the very big fence of bras…Supporting The Breast Cancer Foundation of New Zealand, it is all in aid of a great cause that is doing fantastic work here in New Zealand, so be sure to make a stop, add your bra to the fence, take a pic and make a donation!

10. Cafés & Dining 

The café and dining culture in Wanaka is very strong and buzzing all year round. Our top picks for brunch would be Urban Grind, Kai Whakapai, Relishes Cafe or Federal Diner. For lunch our favourites are Florences Food Store, Alchemy, Red Star Burgers, or Big Fig (be sure to takeaway Big Fig and enjoy it by the lake if it is a nice day). If you are heading out for dinner be sure to check out Kika (they don’t take bookings), Francesca’s Italian Kitchen (book in advance), The Spice Room (best curries in town), or The Cow (super warm and cozy restaurant with amazing pizzas!).

11. Takeaway Delivery 

If you feel like staying in at your MajorDomo luxury villa but don’t want to cook, check out ‘’ – this is Wanaka’s very own version of Uber Eats. For a $10 flat delivery fee to anywhere in Wanaka you can enjoy the best of Wanaka eateries without leaving your villa. For a true kiwi experience try Erik’s Fish and Chips. Be sure to order the cod in fresh batter with a scoop of chips!

12. Winter Games NZ 

This is on from August 23 to September 7 and there are some great spectator events taking place at the Cardrona Alpine Resort and the Snow Farm, both which are a short drive from the Wanaka town centre. 

13. Jossi Wells Invitational Big Air 

This is an action-packed event being held from September 9th to 15th at Cardrona Alpine Resort. Jossi Wells brings together the world’s best riders to his home mountain, Cardrona Alpine Resort where it is an exciting, relaxed vibe where the best battle it out on the snow. The competition includes everything from Rail Jams and Halfpipe to Big Air disciplines, so it is sure going to be an amazing event to watch. 

14. NZ Mountain Film & Book Festival 

This festival is on from June 28th until July 6th. The 17th NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival presents a wide range of films, guest speakers, workshops and presentations from inspirational adventurers from within NZ and around the world. Their films and books tell stories of adventure sports, foreign cultures, remote travel and environmental issues. 

15. Cinema Paradiso 

Paradiso is a local Wanaka cinema nestled right in town on Brownston Street . This cinema boasts comfortable old sofas, an old Morris Minor, a café and bar serving delicious meals before, during or after the movie. Homemade ice cream, world-famous hot cookies fresh every intermission and a warm welcome from the friendly staff.  Ruby’s Cinema is another great cinema, located a couple of minutes out of town. This cinema transports you to a time when going to the pictures was a real event. With two gold class cinemas, they offer you a slice of days gone by, a time when the food was good and simple, the drinks strong, and the service impeccable. 

16. National Transport & Toy Museum 

Whether you are a big kid, a little kid, or just want to re-live being a kid you must make the short trip out of town to check out the National Transport and Toy Museum in Wanaka. This museum boosts the largest private collection that is open to the public in the Southern Hemisphere! It is so impressive, you definitely don’t want to miss it. You will also find quite possibly the best toy shop in the country here too.

17. Warbirds & Wheels Museum 

located next to the National Transport and Toy Museum is The Warbirds & Wheels Museum which houses New Zealand’s best collection of rare and exotic classic and vintage vehicles. The attraction also boasts five fighter aircraft from World War 1, World War 2 through to the impressive SkyHawk and more modern jets. There is an old school retro-diner where you can grab a coffee or a bite to eat while you are there. 

18. Puzzling World 

This is a wonderful world of weirdness and worth paying a visit if you can handle the opticial illusions, bizarre buildings and getting completely lost in a life size maze! For over forty-five years Puzzling World has been messing with people’s heads no matter what age, nationality or experience. Puzzling World is designed to baffle your brain and challenge your perceptions of reality. Even if you only pay a visit to the extensive Puzzle Centre or New Zealand’s most unusual public toilets, your world will never be the same again… Find out more here.

19. Pampering  

If you want to stay warm and relaxed this winter, there are lots of beautiful pampering options available in Wanaka. The team at MajorDomo can either organise for a beauty therapist to come to your luxury villa for in-house treatments, alternatively you can check out some of the local spas in town. We suggest booking in to either Sanctuary Day Spa or Aspects Salon and Day Spa.

20. That Wanaka Tree 

And last, but certainly not least we can’t forget That Wanaka Tree claimed to be New Zealand’s most instagram famous tree. That Wanaka Tree is a partly submerged willow standing all alone in the lake, not far from the shore. Grab a takeaway coffee, hot chocolate or mulled wine and take in the crisp Wanaka air as you go for a stroll along the stunning lakefront (towards Glendhu Bay) and within 5minutes you will discover That Wanaka Tree and what all the hype is about!

Speak to our helpful and knowledgable team to start planning your Wanaka winter escape today! 

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