The Most Luxurious Tours and Activities in Wanaka
For many of us, travelling to a stunning alpine town like Wanaka is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Make the most of your time in the picturesque lakeside town by indulging in the once-in-a-lifetime experiences to match. There are a ton of ways to take in the incredible landscapes, from helicopter excursions to 4WD experiences. Wanaka also provides the opportunity to try something new, like paragliding over majestic waterfalls or fly fishing in Wanaka’s serene rivers and lakes. Of course, there’s always the opportunity to indulge in culinary experiences with wine tasting tours and mountaintop picnics. Find out more about our favourite experiences in this list of luxury experiences in Wanaka.
1. Taste Central Otago Wine on a Winery-Hopping Tour
Wanaka is one of the towns within the acclaimed Central Otago wine region. Learn all about it on one of the fantastic Wanaka wine tours. For instance, join Wanaka Wine Tours and visit four boutique wineries to taste award-winning varietals and indulge in a gourmet food and wine-matching experience. Find out more about the tour, read reviews and book your tour on Wanaka Wine Tours’ pages on Viator and Tripadvisor. Alternatively, WanaHaka offers winery tours with a Maori twist! More details on the tour are available on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, learn more about the wines of the area in the 5 Best Wineries in Wanaka.
Location: Tour operators offer local pick-ups.
2. See Milford Sound in Style on a Scenic Flight
See one of New Zealand’s most breathtaking natural attractions in style with a scenic flight from Wanaka. The Glacier Flight & Cruise experience with Southern Alps Air takes you on a 45-minute flight, observing epic glaciers, alpine lakes and untouched forest of a UNESCO World Heritage Area. After landing in Milford Sound, you’ll board a cruise of the majestic fiord and look out for seals, dolphins and penguins before returning to Wanaka by plane. Check out the flight details and book your flight on Viator and Tripadvisor. Additionally, you might like to compare the flight to the 10 Best Scenic Flights in New Zealand.
Location: 16 Lloyd Dunn Place RD2, Wanaka Airport, approximately 9km (5.5 miles) from Wanaka town centre.
3. Experience the Stunning Vistas of the Cardrona Valley on Horseback
Explore the stunning landscapes surrounding Wanaka on a beautiful horse with The Cardrona. Head out on horseback into the New Zealand countryside, seeing historical places, passing through a working cattle station, traversing rivers and soaking in the marvellous vistas of alpine valleys. The ride includes a stop by the historic Cardrona Hotel for a complimentary beverage before returning back to base along the Cardrona River. Learn more about the horse trek on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, see more amazing horse treks in 11 Awesome Horse Treks in New Zealand.
Location: Cardrona Valley Road, approximately 22km (13.6 miles) from Wanaka town centre.
4. Cruise Lake Wanaka, Travel by 4WD and Enjoy an Island Walk
Enjoy a full day out experiencing Wanaka in three ways with Ridgeline Adventures. Their Wanaka Nature Encounter tour includes a 4WD excursion on private roads, exploring a historic farming station and stopping by rolling meadows and ancient forest. The tour also takes you on a scenic lake cruise to Mou Wahou Island where you’ll have the opportunity to spot rare birds and enjoy commanding views with “high tea” atop the island. Learn more about Ridgeline Adventures and their tours on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday.
Location: Wanaka Marina, Lakeside Road, Wanaka town centre.
5. Fly a Plane Over Lake Wanaka
Don’t just take a scenic flight over the majestic mountains and lakes of Wanaka; fly yourself. That’s right, Learn to Fly NZ is ready for takeoff with you in the pilot’s seat. Choose from a variety of trial flights ranging from 20 minutes to a whole hour, giving you a real taste of what it’s like to be a pilot with a special flight instructor guiding you every step of the way.
Location: 6 Lloyd Dunn Avenue, Wanaka Airport, approximately 9km (5.5 miles) from Wanaka town centre.
6. Treat Yourself to a Fine Dining Experience
If you’re looking for a place to dine for a special occasion or “just because”, then check out some of the fine dining experiences in Wanaka. Experience French gastronomy at Bistro Gentil, which soaks in gorgeous views of the surrounding gardens and mountains. Dine on New Zealand produce, such as Cardrona merino lamb, Aoraki salmon and Canter Valley duck prepared in a French style.
Location: Golf Course Road, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Wanaka town centre.
7. Enjoy Wanaka’s Most Exclusive Picnic Spot on a 4WD Tour
Learn about Wanaka’s unusual deer farming history and soak in the marvellous views on a 4WD tour with Criffel Station. The tour departs from Crossfire, taking you onto a family-run deer station boasting gorgeous vistas of the Wanaka Basin. Ascend to a staggering 1,300m (4,265ft) above sea level where you’ll enjoy a gourmet morning or afternoon tea along with unbeatable views. Along the way, spot majestic deer and learn about Wanaka’s gold mining history from your expert guide. Find out more about the 4WD experience on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Mount Barker Road, approximately 9km (5.5 miles) from Wanaka town centre.
8. Land on a Glacier with a Helicopter Tour
Many of Wanaka’s surrounding alpine landscapes can only be accessed by helicopter. The 35-minute helicopter flight with Aspiring Helicopters flies from the Matukituki Valley just outside of Wanaka to a 2,134m (7,000ft) glacier in the Mt Aspiring National Park. Along the way, you’ll get a birds-eye-view of majestic mountains and learn about this unique area from your pilot. What’s more, you will be with a small group for a more exclusive experience. Find out more about flights with Aspiring Helicopters on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 2211 Wanaka Mount Aspiring Road, approximately 24km (15 miles) from Wanaka town centre.
9. Spend Some Time in the Serene Wilderness on a Full-Day Fly Fishing Tour
Experience one of New Zealand’s favourite past times with a day of flyfishing with Aspiring Flyfishing, A Fly Fisher’s Guide or Southern Rivers Fly Fishing. Day-long fishing excursions have you experiencing Wanaka’s surrounding lakes, creeks and rivers to fish for brown and rainbow trout. You’ll have an expert fly fishing guide to show you the ropes and share a wealth of local knowledge, as well as provide access to all fly fishing equipment, lunch and drinks, as well as time in the serene Wanaka wilderness.
Location: Tour operators offer local pick-ups.
10. Try Out Paragliding to See the Wanaka Scenery in a Unique Way
Last but certainly not least, rise above the mountains, pastures and rivers on one of the most underrated adventure activities in New Zealand: paragliding. Soar over waterfalls with your choice of a gentle ascent or exciting aerobatics. You’ll be strapped to a pilot who will take care of everything, all you need to do is take a few easy steps and enjoy. Book this experience with Wanaka Paragliding on Viator or Tripadvisor. Plus, learn more about this sport in 5 Breathtaking Places to Try Paragliding in New Zealand.
Location: 2083 Wanaka Mount Aspiring Road, approximately 24km (15 miles) from Wanaka town centre.
[CLOSED] Take a Personal Tour of the World of Deer Museum
See an impressive collection of deer antlers grown by stud animals in the local area at the World of Deer Museum. The museum celebrates all things “deer” with world record antlers and education on Wanka’s deer farming industry. Amp up the experience with a personal tour of the museum with the museum’s host and stud deer farmer. What’s more, this activity is a great backup for when the weather isn’t playing ball!
More Luxury Experiences in Wanaka
That’s it for the best luxury experiences in Wanaka but by no means the end of things to do. While not necessarily falling into the “luxury” category, here are some more experiences that are just as exquisite:
- 18 Best Things to Do in Wanaka
- 9 Things to Do in Wanaka for Foodies
- 10 Things to Do in Wanaka with Kids
- 10 Romantic Things to Do in Wanaka for Couples
- 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Wanaka
Find even more tips to make your luxury getaway exceptional in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand, as well as more South Island road trip inspiration from the South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks or South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week.