Pixabay© Pixabay

16 Things to Do in Wanaka with Kids šŸ‘Ŗ [2024]

© Pixabay

The Best Family Activities in Wanaka

Treat yourself and your loved ones to an amazing family adventure in Wanaka. From jet boat excursions to weird and wacky indoor attractions, Wanaka really has it all. There are experiences to enjoy all year round, whether you want to take advantage of the ski fields in winter or enjoy cruising around the lake in summer. Either way, when the weather doesn’t play ball, there are plenty of back-ups in the town’s fantastic family-friendly indoor attractions. Check out some of the highlights for families in this list of things to do in Wanaka with kids!

While you’re here, get more advice in The Guide to Wanaka for Families and find an amazing place to stay in the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Wanaka or the 6 Best Holiday Apartments in Wanaka.

1. Delve into the Mt Aspiring National Park on a Jet Boat Tour – What to Do in Wanaka in Summer with Kids

Experience an iconic New Zealand invention, the jet boat, for the reason it was incepted: to follow the South Island’s shallow rivers into the remote wilderness. Join Wanaka River Journeys for their half-day jet boat and walking tour to do just that! The family-friendly tour has you zipping along the braided Matukituki River into the majestic Mt Aspiring National Park. Admire views of Lake Wanaka, Mt Aspiring and experience a 50-minute guided walk around the awe-inspiring Avalanche Glacier. Find out more about Wanaka River Journeys on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, compare this tour with others in the 18 Best Places to Jet Boat in New Zealand.

Location: 99 Ardmore Street, Wanaka town centre.

Wanaka River Journeys© Wanaka River Journeys

2. Learn to Ski or Simply Enjoy the Snow at One of Wanaka’s Ski Fields – What to Do in Wanaka in Winter with Kids

If you’re visiting Wanaka in winter, don’t miss out on hitting the slopes! Seasoned skiers need only get a lift pass and rental hire for Cardrona or the Treble Cone ski fields – learn more about the ski fields here. On the other hand, first-timers can pick up a “First-Timer Package” at Cardrona Alpine Resort. The package for adults and kids includes two beginner lessons, a lift pass, rental gear and fittings. Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.

If your kids don’t fancy skiing, then the Gondola Sightseeing Passes is another great option for just playing in the snow, making use of the cafes, the views and for hiring a snow tube for the little ones. The gondola passes are also available to enjoy the mountains in summer. Check out sightseeing passes on Viator and Tripadvisor.

And we can’t forget to mention Snow Farm NZ, which has an affordable Snow Fun Zone with a tubing slope and plenty of the white stuff for families to enjoy experiencing snow for the first time.

Location: Cardrona – Cardrona Valley Road, approximately 23km (14 miles) from Wanaka town centre. Treble Cone – Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road, approximately 30km (19 miles) from Wanaka town centre. Snow Farm NZ – 2127 Cardrona Valley Road, approximately 37km (23 miles) from Wanaka town cente.

Pixabay© Pixabay

3. Boggle Your Minds at Puzzling World – Indoor Family Activity in Wanaka

One of the most popular all-weather attractions in Wanaka, Puzzling World is a complex of bizarre buildings, gravity-defying rooms, illusions around every corner, and the home of The Great Maze. Most of the attractions are inside, taking you about 30-45-mins to explore where even the toilets are worth checking out, while The Great Maze is outside, taking anywhere between 10 minutes to two hours to solve! All in all, it’s a must-do for families! Check out Klook, Viator and Tripadvisor for more about Puzzling World.

Location: 188 Wanaka-Luggate Highway, approximately 2km (1.2 miles) from Wanaka town centre.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Take a Cruise to Mou Waho Island – Must-Do Family Activity in Wanaka

For families with active kids, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the bird sanctuary of Mou Waho Island. After a stunning cruise with Lake Wanaka Cruises, your family can enjoy an uphill (but short and easy) climb to the island’s viewpoint with wonderful views. Have a picnic and watch out for the cheeky weka (a flightless bird) who might want to steal your lunch. Book your cruise to the island on Klook, Viator or Tripadvisor

Location: 188 Wanaka-Luggate Highway, approximately 2km (1.2 miles) from Wanaka town centre.

20 Things to Do in Wanaka with Kids© Lake Wanaka Cruises

5. Sail the Skies Above Lake Wanaka in a Parasailing Experience

For an exciting activity for ages 4 to 104, join Wanaka Parasailing for their breathtaking flights across Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawera. Take a tandem flight with your little one and be amazed by the scenery and the feeling of gently flying together. Parasailing is a soft adventure activity, which most don’t find scary (unless you’re afraid of heights). See how the experience compares to the 5 Incredible Places to Do Parasailing in New Zealand.

Location: Lakeside Road, Wanaka town centre.

10 Things to Do in Wanaka with Kids© Unsplash

6. Go Horseriding in the Cardrona Valley

Riding a horse is what every kid dreams about and you’ll love it too with the stunning landscapes surrounding Wanaka. Head out on horseback with The Cardrona into the New Zealand countryside to see historical places, pass through a working cattle station, traverse rivers and soak in the marvellous vistas of alpine valleys. Their two-hour tour is ideal for families. 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.

20 Things to Do in Wanaka with Kids© The Cardrona

7. Challenge Each Other at Archery, Mini Golf, Claybird Shooting and More – Rainy Day Activity in Wanaka for Kids

Enjoy some quality time with the family at Crossfire! Archery, a golf driving range, a rifle range, claybird shooting and mini-golf: it’s all here for a day of competing and trying some unique sports. Many of the activities at Crossfire are undercover, ideal for when the weather isn’t playing ball, so head toward the Wanaka airport and enjoy a fun and affordable day. With prices starting at NZ$10, it can easily be considered one of the cheap things to do in Wanaka. Find out more about Crossfire on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: Mount Barker Road, approximately 9km (5.5 miles) from Wanaka town centre.

Crossfire Wanaka© Crossfire Wanaka

8. Feed the Farm Animals and Eat Lavender Ice Cream at the Wanaka Lavender Farm – Cheap Thing to Do in Wanaka with Kids

An affordable family-friendly attraction that’s open all year round, the Wanaka Lavender Farm is not to be missed. You can spend at least a couple of hours here wandering among the lavender, feeding the bulls, pigs and alpacas, getting some fun family snaps and treating the little ones to lavender ice cream and other treats in the cafe. See more cheap experiences in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Wanaka.

Location: 36 Morris Road, approximately 4.5km (2.8 miles) from Wanaka Town Centre.

20 Things to Do in Wanaka with Kids© Unsplash

9. Oggle at More than 60,000 Toys at the National Transport & Toy Museum

An attraction that impresses all ages, The National Transport & Toy Museum is one of the largest collections of vehicles, aircraft and toys in, not just New Zealand, but the world! There’s something for everyone here with more than 60,000 toys for the kids to oggle at and adult-sized pedal cars the “big kids” to play on. Have a go on the military guns, let the kids pretend that they’re driving a car from yesteryears, and enjoy a picnic by the children’s playground.

Location: 891 Wanaka-Luggate Highway, RD 2, approximately 9km (5.5 miles) from Wanaka town centre.

Pixabay© Pixabay

10. Be Welcomed to Lake Wanaka with a Traditional Maori Powhiri Ceremony

Get a taste of the Maori culture with a welcome from WanaHaka. The Maori tour company invites you and your family into Wanaka the traditional way with a “powhiri”. Experience the full powhiri, including a challenge to your tribe’s leader (so elect someone you trust with this important duty!), a welcoming speech in the Maori language, and receive a Maori bone carving to remember the experience. Find out more about WanaHaka on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: Roys Bay, 59 Wanaka Mount Aspiring Road or Ruby Island Road, Wanaka.

WanaHaka© WanaHaka

11. Be Transported into Another Reality at Realm VR

Leave Lake Wanaka behind and jump into a new universe at Realm VR. This VR indoor attraction is New Zealand’s largest fully immersive VR experience using cutting edge technology to make you feel like you’re in another world. There are experiences for ages 7 and up, such as defending your castle from Orcs, creating 3D art, saving the world from zombies and countless other experiences. More information is available on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: 31 Dunmore Street, Wanaka town centre.

Wanaka Realm Virtual Reality Centre© Wanaka Realm Virtual Reality Centre

12. Let the Kids Loose at the Wanaka Dinosaur Park – What to Do in Wanaka with Kids for Free

For a fun free thing for the kids to do in Wanaka, spend some time at the Wanaka Dinosaur Park. The playground with a fun dinosaur theme is right on the lakefront of Wanaka town, featuring plenty of apparatus to wear the little ones out!

Location: The playground can be accessed off Ardmore Street or off Lakeside Road.

Pixabay© Pixabay

13. Relax with a Movie and a Hot Cookie at Cinema Paradiso

For something more relaxing to do in Wanaka with kids, gather the tribe for a movie and some glorious home baking at Cinema Paradiso. More than just a movie theatre, Cinema Paradiso is a boutique cinema experience with comfortable sofas to relax in and a cafe/bar to take advantage of. There’s an interval mid-way through each movie to stock up on freshly-baked cookies, indulge in homemade ice cream and grab a glass of wine.

Location: 72 Brownston Street, Wanaka town centre.

20 Things to Do in Wanaka with Kids© NZPocketGuide.com

14. Hit the Climbing Walls at Wanaka Basecamp

Exhaust the kids with an exciting Clip ‘n Climb session at Wanaka Basecamp. The automatic belay systems allow for even preschool kids to climb safely and independently on the many individually themed climbing walls. Race up the “Dark Tower” wall with UV holds or one of the many crazy colourful challenges. The team at Wanaka Basecamp also offer all sorts of outdoor family adventures too, from family rock climbing to snowshoeing.

Location: 50 Cardrona Valley Road, approximately 2km (1.2 miles) from Wanaka town centre.

20 Things to Do in Wanaka with Kids© NZPocketGuide.com

15. Meet the Animals at a Working Deer Farm

Visit the animals and admire the views at Criffel Station. This family-run deer farm enjoys stunning vistas over the Wanaka Basin, providing more photo opportunities along with taking photos of your little ones with the animals. Join the Explore Tour to meet the alpacas, feed the sheep and view the majestic deer grazing in the fields. More information is available on Viator and Tripadvisor. Alternatively, a 4WD tour is available to take you higher onto the station where you’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch at the peak! Check out this tour on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, see similar experiences to this in the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in Wanaka.

Location: Mount Barker Road, approximately 9km (5.5 miles) from Wanaka town centre.

Criffel Station© Criffel Station

16. Have a Splash in Lake Wanaka

And if all else fails, you have Lake Wanaka to enjoy. In summer, the lake just begs to be splashed in! The Lakefront Beach has a pontoon and a wharf to jump off, while another excellent swimming spot can be found at Glendhu Bay.

Location: Lakefront Beach – Wanaka town centre. Glendhu Bay – Wanaka Mount Aspiring Road, approximately 14.5km (9 miles) from Wanaka town centre.

16 Things to Do in Wanaka with Kids© Unsplash

More About Wanaka for Kids

That’s it for the best things to do in Wanaka for kids but by no means the end of things to do. While not necessarily falling into the “family” category, here are some more experiences that are just as breathtaking:

Finally, discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families and plan the rest of your travels around the South Island using the South Island Family Itinerary: Two Weeks or South Island Family Itinerary: One Week.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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