Ski Wanaka

Spectacular Lake Wanaka
Wanaka town is still relatively small compared to Queenstown
Many accommodations in Wanaka have lake & mountain views
Cardrona (34km away) is a favourite ski resort for families
Cardrona is particularly great for the little ones
Treble Cone (located 26 km away) has some of the best skiing in NZ
You can never get tired of looking at Lake Wanaka
The commercial area of town is fairly small but it has some good shopping
Heli skiing near Wanaka is extremely popular
Jet boating is also a popular activity near Wanaka
The Oakridge Resort has public hot pools & day spa services
That's some of the heli skiing terrain across lake Wanaka
Wanaka has a good selection of cafe-style restaurants
And there are some fabulous evening restaurants
And not to mention that Wanaka has some stylish bars
There is no shortage of ski & snowboard retail & rentals shops in Wanaka
The Wanaka lake shoreline at dusk
Looking across Lake Wanaka at night
Ahhh that view never gets tired!
Nor do the sunset views over Lake Wanaka

Ski Wanaka

Readers Ratings


Wanaka4 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit

Ski Wanaka New Zealand

With a couple of Wanaka ski fields within close proximity and some great heli skiing nearby, Lake Wanaka is a fabulous ski town. Other than the Wanaka skiing, a major attraction is the lake, which makes it a picturesque and tranquil place. The town is nestled along the shores of Lake Wanaka, and views abound across the lake to Mt Aspiring, the Matterhorn of New Zealand. When you gaze across Lake Wanaka on a still day, you would swear you are seeing double as you take in the reflections on the water.

Wanaka is a place of contradictions and it finds the perfect balance between being low-key and upmarket. The architecture is modern and stylish, as are some of the trendy people that grace the caffe latte establishments, yet there is also a grungy scene. It doesn’t have the tourist hype seen in Queenstown, and Wanaka still manages to retain the feel of a relaxed ski town.

Ski Wanaka NZ – Pros and Cons

  • The Wanaka ski fields are better than the Queenstown ski resorts (hence why some people staying in Queenstown make the trek to get to Cardrona and Treble Cone).
  • Wanaka skiing is less afflicted by the weather compared to Mt Hutt near Methven.
  • Heli skiing makes a fabulous adjunct to your Wanaka ski holiday.
  • The town has a cosmopolitan flair whilst retaining a chilled out vibe.
  • Wanaka has lots of great cafes, restaurants and bars.
  • Looking out across Lake Wanaka and the snow capped mountains is stunning.
  • Like other NZ ski towns, there’s no ski-in ski-out accommodation in Wanaka and you’ll have a daily commute to the ski resorts.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Wanaka is more subdued than Queenstown. It’s not crazy busy like Queenstown, and the nightlife is quieter and there are less activities on offer.

Where is Wanaka NZ?

Wanaka (pronounced Wonaka) is the gateway to the Mt Aspiring National Park and is located 428km SW of Christchurch, and 68km NE (about 1 hour) of Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand.

Wanaka Ski Fields

Treble Cone is one of the Wanaka ski resorts, located 26km northwest of town (a 30-35 minute drive). Treble Cone is particularly well suited to advanced to expert riders – see our Treble Cone review for more information.

The other main Wanaka ski field is Cardrona, which is 34km southwest of town. Cardrona has great terrain parks and good terrain for beginner to advanced riders.

On the opposite side of Cardrona Valley from Cardrona Ski Resort is Snowfarm, a cross country skiing area.

Heli Skiing Wanaka

Wanaka is also home to two of the biggest New Zealand heli skiing outfits, Harris Mountains Heliski and Southern Lakes Heliski, with vast terrain in the mountain ranges near Treble Cone and north of Lake Wanaka. Both companies have a fairly similar offering but you can check out our reviews regarding the subtle differences (Harris Mountains Heliski review & Southern Lakes Heliski review).

Wanaka Accommodation

Much of the Wanaka accommodation is of very high quality, and there is great diversity in the type of lodging available. In addition to a few resort hotels, Wanaka has 5-star luxurious bed and breakfast retreats, inexpensive motels, and a range of backpackers. Some of the accommodation is in the centre of town, located along the shores of Lake Wanaka, or a short walk or drive out of town. See the Wanaka accommodation page for more information.

Wanaka Accom Listings


Whilst Wanaka is much more understated than the crazy Queenstown, there are still various Wanaka activities on offer besides skiing and snowboarding. The Wanaka area has a few adventure pursuits as well as lots of R and R activities such as day spas, wineries, or a cruise on Lake Wanaka.

There are also a plethora of Wanaka restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs to suit all entertainment tastes. Wanaka shopping is also pretty good, especially if you’re in the market for a new ski or snowboard outfit.
Tours That Include Wanaka

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Haka Ultimate Heli Tour
7 Days | 6 Nights | 5 Skiing / Boarding
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
This world-class 7 day adventure takes in the best of the South Island’s heli riding and skiing: Methven, Mt Cook, Wanaka and Queenstown. Prepare yourself for the trip of a lifetime!
Price p/p From price based on twin-share lodging for 2020 tour.
Base/invoice currency is in NZD.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 4,223
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South Island Snow Odyssey
11 Nights | 11 Days Riding at 10 Areas
Ability: Intermediate to Advanced
Take an odyssey of the South Island to the best New Zealand ski fields ranging from big commercial ski resorts to club field gems with barely any crowds. No need to worry about driving or organising anything as your host looks after all the logistics.
Price p/p From price based on quad share option.
Base/invoice currency is in NZD.
Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Base/invoice currency is in NZD.
Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,111
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South Island Snow Safari
7 Days | 6 Nights | 6 Skiing | 6 Resorts
Ability: Beginner to Advanced
This 7 day adventure is ideal for the young at heart who want to pack in as much skiing or snowboarding and fun as possible into a single week. You will visit up to 6 of NZ's great ski areas with professional hosts who will get you to the best skiing/snowboarding in each of the locations.
Price p/p From price based on multi-share "lift only" package for 2020.
Base/invoice currency is in NZD.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,279
View Details
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Wanaka here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Wanaka Explorer
Fully Hosted & Guided | All Ground Transport Included
Ability: Intermediate to Advanced
Take all of the organising out of your next NZ ski or snowboarding trip by joining an Explore Wanaka package tour. Packages include accommodation of various levels/budget, daily on-mountain hosting, transport to/from Queenstown airport to your accommodation plus daily 4x4 transport with your host to/from the mountains.
Price p/p "From" price is based on 3-night, twin-share, 3-star accommodation package.
Base/invoice currency is NZD
Displayed prices may vary slightly to fluctuations in exchange rates
USD 1,088
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Wanaka Heli & Resort Combo
2 Days Heli | 3 Days Resort
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Head to Wanaka this winter and experience some of the best value heli skiing on the planet plus Wanaka's best resorts. This package can be customised from 3+ nights however the sample is based on 7-nights deluxe lodging, 2 days heli + 3 days resort.
Price p/p "From" price is based on 7-night, twin-share, package.
Base/invoice currency is NZD
Displayed prices may vary slightly to fluctuations in exchange rates
USD 4,416
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See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Wanaka here

Heli Skiing Tours

Harris Mountains Heliski Queenstown Wanaka
Packages from 4 to 10 runs
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Don't miss the opportunity to experience New Zealand's best heli skiing with Harris Mountains Heliski. Heli ski Queenstown and Wanaka heli ski packages are either 3, 4, 7 or 10 runs with the option to purchase additional runs on the day. Includes Queenstown or Wanaka accommodation pick-up/drop-off. Share
Price p/p From price based on Intro 4-run package (per person).
Base/invoice currency is in NZD inclusive of tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 701
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 Mega Discounts: $300 off 4 runs, $400 off 7 runs, $500 off 10 runs. Book by July 31.
Ski The Tasman - Classic 2 Run Day
2 massive runs of 8 - 10 km each!
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
A Ski the Tasman odyssey should definitely be on your bucket list! The inimitable opportunity to go plane skiing on a glacier with two million years of history is an activity not to be missed. This is without doubt one of the most incredible experiences you will ever have!!! Share
Price p/p Base/invoice currency is inc NZD.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 762
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 40% discount: was $NZ1190, now $699 if you book by July 31
Southern Lakes Day Heli Skiing
Packages: 4, 6, 8 or 10 runs
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Southern Lakes Heliskiing offers day heli skiing packages in the Queenstown & Wanaka areas. With 11 mountains, 600 runs spread across 8,500 square kms there is plenty of variety to keep you entertained. Share
Price p/p From price based on 4-run package (per person).
Base/invoice currency is in NZD in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 698
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 20% off listed prices
See all Heli Skiing tours that visit Wanaka here