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Wanaka is New Zealand's favourite ski resort for those who are passionate about their skiing and snowboarding, a winter paradise with an exhilarating variety of snow sports, snowboarding or skiing Cardrona and Treble Cone skifields, heliskiing the length of New Zealand's Southern Alps from Mt Cook to Wanaka to Queenstown, snowboarding the terrain park at Snow Park, ski touring from private huts high in the Southern Alps or x-country touring at the Snow Farm.
The terrain and quality of snow is generally agreed to be some of the best in the Southern Hemisphere. Between them, Cardrona and Treble Cone resorts provide almost 900 hectares of terrain, excellent services and stunning views. The resorts are friendly and uncrowded and the terrain ranges from beginner to advanced, with great off-piste country as well as groomed trails. Modern facilities and a lack of queues make the experience all the more enjoyable. Just over an hour's drive away are Queenstown’s two fields, the Remarkables and Coronet Peak. Equipment can be hired up the mountain or in Wanaka township.
Where to Stay, What to Do, How to Get Here
Wanaka is a little town passionate about the outdoors, a bit like a baby Banff or Chamonix and it has a range of boutique accommodation to match; from best of the best luxury such as Riverrun Luxury Lodge or the Luxury Tented Camp at Minaret Station to excellent bed and breakfasts (Wanaka Homestead or Wanaka Springs), apartments (Wanaka Lakefront Apartments) and small hotels such as Edgewater Resort.
All the mountain resorts have onfield facilities and equipment hire, but if you are planning a 5-7 night stay then consider hiring in town for the wider range of equipment and ability to change and fine-tune gear. Racers Edge (recently taken over by R & R Sports) is the go-to place for skiers, Base for snowboarders and Mt Outdoors for ski touring and specialty equipment. Ask about the executive or "new this season" range of equipment hire.
- intermediate to advanced terrain.
- a high field renowned for what they call “poor man’s heliskiing,” if you want to ski or board off trail you will have a ball! This is the place to move your skiing or boarding to another level.
- a big mountain with a cool “club field” atmosphere.
- cafe, bar and outdoor terrace with fire.
- ski/snowboard school, excellent intensive multiday courses.
- full range of ski and board equipment hire.
- best views of any field in the country.
- beginner to intermediate terrain.
- the highest field in the region with a deserved reputation - for dry and reliable snow, well groomed slopes, some steeper stuff to try, all in all a relaxed, friendly and an excellent family or "back to basics" field.
- 4 restaurants and cafes, noodle bar.
- excellent ski/snowboard school.
- full range of ski and board equipment hire.
- x-country resort with peace, quiet, just locals and excellent facilities.
- groomed trails for classic or freestyle/skate skiing out to characterfull little high country huts.
- basic cafe, upstairs bar, equipment hire, tuition, occasional snow mobiles and sled hire.
Getting to Wanaka
There are convenient direct flights into Queenstown daily from Australia as well as regular links to Christchurch and Auckland. Queenstown airport is a hub for car rental and bus or shuttle services. Wanaka is one hour's drive from Queenstown airport.
Car or 4WD Hire
Hiring a car for the duration of your stay is highly recommended. It is more convenient, flexible and not much more expensive than the daily cost per person of shuttles to and from the skifields. Check that your car comes winterised (with ski racks and snow chains on board). If you hire 4WD you are unlikely ever to have to fit chains but will have to carry them. Try Budget Rental Car for good service and prices. Allow 35 minutes to drive from Wanaka township to Treble Cone, Cardrona or the Snowfarm.
Wanaka has a superb range of restaurants from fine cuising to good casual food, as well as two boutique cinemas. Rubys is a luxury and leather afffair with a select 24 seater lounge as well as a 40 seat cinema. Cinema Paradiso is a long term favourite, more casual, with pizzas and cookies available half way through the movie.
Casual: Francesca's Italian Kitchen, Relishes, The Urban Grind
Off The Snow
Everything from mountain biking, touring pinot noir country, hiking, kayaking on the lake, sky diving, scenic flights to Milford Sound, golf or hot yoga and spa treatments.
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