Family skiing in Wanaka

My guide and personal recommendations as where to eat, visit, ski and stay as a family in Wanaka for a ski holiday.

When it comes to that big family ski holiday, I know how hard it is to make sure that you are choosing the right slopes, après-ski dining, non-ski day activities and the all important accommodation.  Having young children myself, I thought I’d write this article to help give some insiders tips on Wanaka as a family ski-destination.

The Slopes

In Wanaka you’ve got two real choices for skiing, Cardrona and Treble Cone. Both are a similar distance from town and comparable in price.

I’d say that Cardrona is more set-up for families, having generally better terrain for the little ones as well as dedicated on-slope nursery childcare facilities, Ski Kindy and a brilliant full programme for over 5’s – all pretty reasonably priced.

Treble Cone also offers the full family package with childcare too, but when it gets to taking the kids up the mountain it’s a little more challenging. Saying that, they do have a cool on-ski mascot that the kid’s seem to love!

Apres-Ski Dinner & Activities

One of the things that I love about Wanaka, is that it’s a lot quieter than Queenstown, even in the peak of the season – with a lot more down to earth eateries. In lots of ways I’d say that Wanaka is a lot more traditionally kiwi in culture than the international resort feel of its neighbour over the hill.

My two favourite places to eat out with the kids in Wanaka are;

The Cow – Tasty and well made pizzas in a cosy restaurant with open fires. My personal favourites are the garlic loaf (yes, it’s literally a loaf!) and Bolognese pizza – they are just the right size for the family, if not they have cool people days to take the leftovers home! 

Amigo’s – This family owned Mexican themed restaurant serves all your favourite Mexican delights – be warned, the portions are enormous! Nothing like a big bowl of Nachos for sharing to start off the evening.

If you do one thing in the evening in Wanaka, you have to visit Cinema Paradiso – it’s a quirky single screen cinema with comfortable sofa’s, vintage car and the best home baked cookies at half-time. Not to be missed.

Non-Ski Day Activities

Here are the three family activities that I’d recommend a trip to on the day’s your body is just too tired to make it back up the slopes;

Puzzling World – It’s the one Wanaka attraction that everyone will tell you to visit and it’s a must. I guarantee that it won’t just be the kids that will love the maze and illusions. The best bit is that it’s really good value.

Base Camp Wanaka – Just because you might be knackered from all the skiing, the kid’s probably aren’t - you’ll still want to make sure their worn out so you can relax and enjoy a peaceful evening. A great option is the climbing wall at Base Camp Wanaka. Being afraid of heights, I can’t bare watching the kids make the ascent – luckily I don’t have too as their supervised by professionals!

Wanaka National Transport & Toy Museum – It might not be the most organised of museums, in fact I’d be surprised if they even know everything that’s on display themselves, but it’s worth a visit if only to show the kids the kind of toys you played with before the invention of iPad’s & Playstation’s.

Apartment style Wanaka accommodation perfect for family ski holidays

If you’re travelling with a family, hotels can be an expensive option and often meaning splitting the family up, not to forget the added expense of not being able to cook. We’ve got three really good options for multi-room apartments that have full kitchen facilities, a lounge area and in-room laundry facilities. All things that are a god send when travelling with the family, as I’m sure you’ll appreciate.

Belvedere Apartments – Just a couple of hundred metres walk from the centre of Wanaka, this place is perfect with plenty of undercover parking, a sauna, views of the lake, ski storage & dry room.

Alpine Resort – Quiet location with alpine views just 1.5km from the town centre, the resort offers secure garaging, outdoor pool, spa, tennis court, games room & free courtesy van.

Benbrae Resort – The closest accommodation to Cardrona, just a few hundred metres from the entrance, Benbrae is perect for the larger family with 2 & 3 bedroom apartments. With ski storage, large kitchen and heated spa, it’s a great option for family skiing.

Visit the New Zealand Apartments website.


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