Air NZ's top 10 picks for Wanaka

Enjoy local hospitality at boutique Wanaka cinema

Wanaka people make it their business to meet visitors and there is no better way to do this than by sinking into a comfy couch and sharing a movie in the town’s delightful boutique cinema.

Cinema Paradiso is run by Calum McLeod who has well and truly fallen for the lakeside town’s charms and embraced its status as the world’s first lifestyle reserve.

For visitors the lifestyle reserve status means that locals have made a formal commitment to ensure they experience the best of Wanaka and enjoy genuine hospitality.

At Cinema Paradiso this means forgetting the stiff, formulaic seating of modern theatres and instead choosing a spot on a comfy old sofa or even one of three seats in a Morris Minor car.

It also means an old fashioned intermission and the chance to chat with your fellow movie goers and enjoy delicious home-style cooking including homemade ice cream and freshly baked cookies still warm from the oven.

It’s a recipe that has seen the cinema lauded by guide book guru Lonely Planet as “deservedly one of Wanaka’s biggest attractions and just maybe a New Zealand national treasure”.

Other attractions in the region’s must do top 10 include:


  • Water pursuits – make the most of the region’s extraordinary mix of lakes and rivers by fishing, jet boating, kayaking, swimming, wakeboarding or sailing

  • Cycling – take your pick of leisurely cycle rides to Lake Hawea, Glendhu Bay or Luggate or step it up a notch by venturing into the high back country or even heli biking for a maximum adrenalin rush

  • Mt Aspiring National Park – part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area, this national park offers you a choice of  short walks for every level of fitness or more demanding multi-day treks

  • Food and wine heaven –find out why internationally successful cook book writer and television food presenter Annabel Langbein chooses to live here. The region is home to an amazing array of fresh food and food products as well as many restaurants, cafes, wineries and its own brewery

  • Skiing – take your pick of downhill skiing, Nordic skiing or heli-skiing in the winter months

  • Crown Range road – drive the highest main road in New Zealand over this mountainous link between Wanaka and Queenstown. Make time for a stop at the historic Cardrona Hotel built in 1870 to cater for the mining community

  • New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum – be moved by this tribute to the country’s fighter pilots which includes accounts of their  memories and stories, an extraordinary collection of memorabilia and many painstakingly restored aircraft  

  • Puzzling World  - test yourself at Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World which features a giant maze, hologram room and enough puzzles to satisfy the most inquiring of minds

  • Events – enjoy a range of events including everything from the stunning Warbirds Over Wanaka international air show held every second Easter 9the next one is Easter 2012) to the annual Wanaka A & P show, a traditional celebration of all things agricultural and pastoral in the region

Air New Zealand flies between Wanaka and Christchurch linking it with 25 other destinations on the domestic network. For information and bookings