These days, with its beautiful lake and mountain views, Wanaka has become a popular tourist resort, loved by many for being less commercialised than it’s close neighbour Queenstown.
Wanaka boasts a growing number of excellent restaurants, cafes and a diverse nightlife. Other attractions in the town include Puzzling World and the Paradiso Cinema. Puzzling World contains a 3d maze, optical illusions and a leaning tower. The Paradiso is a classic old cinema, with seating consisting of old couches and a car. There are a number of wineries in the area.
A great day excursion can be had walking up neighbouring Roys Peak, from which stunning views can be seen of Wanaka and the surrounding area, including Mount Aspiring.
Wanaka is host to some of New Zealand's best outdoor recreation and tourism activities with world-class hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, fishing, paragliding, kayaking, rafting, jet boating, and environmental activities of all kinds suitable for adventure seeking people and families. With one of New Zealand's sunniest climates, Wanaka is truly an adventure paradise. It is the access point to the highest mountain outside of the Mount Cook region, Mount Aspiring/Tititea.
Mount Aspiring National Park is very popular for mountaineering and hiking. Tourists enjoy day trips into the park and many tourists go hiking in the park for up to a week at a time. Parts of the Matukituki Valley on the road to the park are also very popular for rock climbing, and for day walks.
Lake Wanaka itself is popular for waterskiing, wakeboarding and sailing. This along with the local rivers provide many opportunities for fishing. There is a dedicated mountain biking area made by volunteers in a local pine forest. All the local ski resorts open for mountain biking and hiking in the summer.
Wanaka has the broadest range of snow activity choices of any town in NZ. These include Treble Cone, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Park and Snow Farm, some of New Zealand's premier commercial ski fields.
Treble Cone has a reputation among New Zealanders as having the best lift accessed terrain in the country and for this reason has developed a cult following, 'ConeHeads. It also catches some of the better snow in the area, with its location and orientation getting more snow from NW storms. Cardrona is more attractive to families and beginners, though an attempt has been made at the park riding population in competition with SnowPark.Snowpark is a dedicated 100% artificial terrain park for advanced riders.
Snow Farm is New Zealand's only commercial cross-country ski field.