As you drive through the gorge past the lakes you will see long horizontal lines carved into the mountainsides. These were created by the large glaciers which led to the formation of the large lakes as the rocks they pushed blocked the valleys. Lake Wanaka is the third largest of the Southern Lakes. It is 45 km long and is as much as 312 metres deep. It is fed by the Makaroa and Matukituki Rivers and is the source of the Clutha River. Lake Hawea is 35 km long and as much as 410 metres deep.
Legend has it that the great chief Te Rakaihautu carved out the beds of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea with his mighty Ko, or digging tick piling up the debris to form mountain ranges.
Wanaka is a summer holiday town for Kiwis and travellers alike and a winter base for access to Mount Aspiring National Park, and the Cardrona and Treblecone ski fields. Wanaka is like a sister city to Queenstown and is a good place to jump off the bus for a couple of days, no matter what time of year. It’s a great place to chill out, with lots of hiking and mountain biking options around the lake in summer and ski/snowboarding options in winter.
Must See and Do
- Learn to fly a plane!
- Skydive over scenic lake Wanaka
- Put your brain to work at puzzling world
- Pump the legs and the adrenaline on the mountain bike tracks
- Walk up to the top of Mount Iron for incredible views.
- Ski/snowboard on Cardrona - one of New Zealand's best ski fields.
The best activities on offer in the outdoor playground that is Wanaka!
It's not every day that you strap yourself to a beautiful stranger and leap from a perfectly good aircraft!
Wanaka’s Puzzling World is a world-unique attraction that since 1973 has been fascinating ...
Wanaka Bike Tours is like no other adventure guiding company. For them, the outdoors is no...
Cardrona ski area which is one of the best ski fields in New Zealand and there a range of day packages available.
Wilkin River Jets and Backcountry Helicopters offer exhilarating jet boat safaris and heli...
Be rewarded with 360 degree views of the Upper Clutha Basin and the Pisa range, Lake Wana...
This little track from Haast Pass - Makarora Road will take you through the forest, over a...