Wanaka Experiences

Both a summer and a winter ski destination, Wanaka offers year round adventure. The Wanaka region is a mecca for those who love the outdoors and has an unparalleled selection of short hikes, day walks and wilderness adventures. With its two lakes, rivers and sunny climate, the valley is also popular for biking, kayaking, fishing, horse-trekking, climbing, canyoning and skydiving. There are superb scenic flight options; helicopter trips around Mt Aspiring or flights to join day cruises on Milford Sound. The region is a popular honeymoon destination and perfect for planning a relaxing retreat or romantic stay.

Wanaka has a special "village" character, with good restaurants and cafes, galleries, shops and most services available. It is also very beautiful, with the backdrop of the Southern Alps, two majestic alpine lakes and New Zealand's largest river, the Clutha, which runs along the northern boundary of Riverrun. For those who are wanting less adventure and more relaxation there are cruises to the lake's island reserves, gentle kayaking or paddle boarding as well as numerous lakeside walks and picnic possibilities. The region is famous for its pinot noir vineyards as well as producing excellent pinot gris, chardonnay and riesling wines and we can advise you on wine tours or a self-guided tour. The Golf Course is popular with outstanding views of the lake and mountains.


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Wanaka is hiking heaven. Shorter lakeside strolls with lots of interest along the way, beautiful walks to deserted beaches, steep hikes to magnificent elevations, 3-4 hour hikes through forested river valleys in Mt Aspiring National Park, heli-assisted hikes to magnificent alpine tarns, overnight tramps or guided treks with fully catered "camps" along the way. We've picked out two good day hikes below but the options are many and we are happy to advise.

Rob Roy Glacier Hike
One of Wanaka's best! Drive for 1 hour through the beautiful Matukituki Valley into Mt Aspiring National Park. Then hike for 3 1⁄2 hours return up the Rob Roy Stream through beech forest and past waterfalls to the tree line, reaching a mountain cirque with spectacular views of a semi-circle of hanging glaciers. There are some magnificent waterfalls and New Zealand's native parrot, the Kea, will entertain you over lunch. Allowing for drive-time this is a full day excursion that can be guided or unguided, though most commonly it is freedom walked. Riverrun can provide lunches and track notes.

The Siberia Experience
At the head of Lake Wanaka, 45 minutes drive from Riverrun, the landscape is dense with beech forest, high mountains and a series of beautiful and wild river systems. Most of this wilderness is only available to overnight hikers, but, with a very special day trip you can gain access to a spectacular part of this unspoilt wilderness. A 25 minute scenic flight takes you into the remote Siberia Valley. You wade the Siberia stream and commence a 2-3 hour hike. The route takes you along forested meadow flats before climbing through beech forest over a craggy saddle to descend into the Wilkin River Valley. A short distance along the Wilkin you are met by jet boat for an awesome ride out along this braided river.

  • fitness advisable: moderate - strong
  • duration: full day,
  • cost: $355 per person
  • season: year round, best september-april
  • Link: The Siberia Experience

Lakes & Rivers

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Mou Waho Island Eco Excursion
Near the centre of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island, a unique glacial remnant of the last ice age, the island is craggy and forested with several beaches and near the top is an idyllic little lake called the Arethusa Pool. The walk up to the pool from the boat landing is 15-20 minutes and you will get panoramic views of Lake Wanaka. The island serves now as a sanctuary and wildlife on the island includes Buff Weka, N.Z Falcon, Wood Pigeon, Bellbird, Tim tit, Fantail, Wax Eye, Greywarbler, occasional Kaka and Geko Lizards. This is a guided trip with excellent advice on the birdlife, history and geology of the area. A tree is planted for each trip.

  • fitness advisable: moderate
  • duration: half day
  • cost: $195 per person
  • season: year round
  • link: Eco Wanaka Adventures


Matukituki Valley Jet Boat Adventure
A spectacular half day wilderness adventure set among the scenery of World Heritage Mount Aspiring National Park. Jet boat up the magnificent braided Matukituki River Valley, spinning and turning through shallow waters, enjoying turquoise pools, dense forest fringes and glacier fed waterfalls. Part way through your journey you will be met by helicopter and take off for a close up look at the glaciers and mountain peaks high above you, hanging alpine lakes and waterfalls cascading from the snowline. Experience a high altitude snow landing overlooking Mount Aspiring and disembark the helicopter for photos before flying back down into the Matukituki Valley to join the boat crew and a 50 minute forest walk to a mountain stream and waterfall.

  • fitness advisable: moderate
  • duration: half day
  • cost: $590 per person
  • season: year round, main season october - april
  • link: Wanaka River Journeys

Lake Kayaking & Stand Up Paddle Board
Kayak the shoreline of Lake Wanaka for half a day and explore Ruby Island or venture further out for a full day "adventure paddle". Learn the new art of Stand Up Paddling on Lake Wanaka, try SUP Yoga or paddle board the Clutha.

Clutha River Kayak
We especially recommend the half-day guided excursion kayaking down the magnificent Clutha River from the river outlet for approximately 12 kms. Your guide will give you instructions on river safety and technique. The fun unfolds as the river twists and turns, through playful rapids set amongst gorgeous Wanaka scenery.

  • experience: beginner to experienced
  • duration: full day
  • cost: $149 pp
  • season: october - april 
  • link: Lake Wanaka Kayaks


Fly Fishing
The Wanaka area has a legion of rivers and backcountry streams, many of them not heavily fished at all and providing crystal clear conditions for stalking and spotting brown and rainbow trout. For fly fishers, Riverrun coordinates private guided trips by 4WD, boat or helicopter. Fish such renowned rivers as the Hunter, the Dingle or Makarora rivers or head east to a completely different landscape and weather pattern. On the Clutha river, which is a high volume river, a good option is fly fishing from a raft that will give you easy access to some beautiful waters. We use experienced and professional guides, who are patient, good company and good teachers. A guide is invaluable if you really want to understand the fishery, find the best waters and catch trout. They should be booked as far ahead as possible. Equipment provided.

  • experience: beginner to experienced
  • duration: full day
  • cost: $750 for 1-2 people full day
  • season: october - april 
  • link: Riverrun Fly Fishing Package


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Wanaka has some of the best mountain biking in New Zealand, from lakeside and riverside trails to challenging single track forest rides to the enjoyment of exploring old miners tracks and big helicopter-assisted descents. Some of the best trails are available directly from the lodge. Riverrun can advise you on options for both keen bikers and lakeside amblers. We have several mountain bikes and equipment available to guests free of charge and bikes can also be hired in town. If you want to venture further, gain new bike skills or experience the thrill of heli-biking then consider a guided trip.

Single Track Style

  • Sticky Forest
  • Dublin Bay

Longer Cross Country

  • Pisa Range Riding
  • West Wanaka
  • Dingleburn

Lakeside and Riverside Trails for Everyone

  • The Outlet Track
  • Clutha River Track
  • Hawea River Track
  • Waterfall Creek and Glendhu Bay Track

Wanaka Introductory Heli-Bike Adventure
A fantastic trip to extend your biking and give you access to some awesome terrain suitable for a range of abilities. This heli bike is much more than just riding! Views are stunning and you learn the history of this special landscape on an exclusive ride through one of the areas largest working farms. The ride finishes at a historic pub. Experienced riders should consider upgrading to the Max Vertical option starting at 6500ft for outrageous views and 3-4 hours of descent. Minimum 2 people for trips.

  • duration: Intro Heli-Bike 2-3 hours, Max Vert Heli-Bike 4-5 hours
  • cost: Intro Heli-Bike NZ$399 pp, Max Vert Heli-Bike NZ$599 pp
  • season: october - april 
  • link: Wanaka Bike Tours

High Country Farm Adventures

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Wild Hills High Country Safari
Experience the rugged beauty of the spectacular high country, with this exclusive 4WD journey exploring an historic New Zealand sheep, cattle and deer farm. The tour offers an unique insight into Wanaka’s rich history, Maori and European heritage and modern-day farming life. Explore high into the hills above Lake Wanaka where falcons soar, then descend old farm roads to one of the world's most beautiful deserted beaches. A photographer's dream with spectacular views into Mt Aspiring National Park, over Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. Small numbers, limited to 2-8.

  • fitness advisable: n/a
  • duration: half day
  • cost: NZ$195
  • season: year round but best October-May
  • link: Ridgeline Wanaka

Horse-trekking in the Cardrona Valley
A hill climb soon gives way to spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, the farm land turns to rugged rock and tussock country. You are on top of the world in the middle of nowhere! Descend to the historic Cardrona Hotel where you dismount & tie your horse to our hitching rail and enjoy a well earned beverage on us in the gorgeous garden bar. If you fancy a bit of a run this is your chance to cut loose! The trail along the river allows a safe stretch to have a nice canter.

  • experience: beginner to intermediate riders
  • duration: 3 - 3 1/2 hours
  • cost: NZ$139 pp 
  • season: year round
  • link: The Cardrona

Scenic Flights and Helicopter Adventures

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Milford Sound Scenic Flight
The flight to Milford Sound is as impressive as the Sound itself. From Wanaka you fly over lakes, mountains and remote forest fringed beaches before you fly up the full length of the Sound to reach your destination. This is country that is inaccessible except on foot, by boat or by plane. Mt Aspiring is one of New Zealand's most beautiful peaks, surrounded by permant icefields and glaciers. You arrive back in time to enjoy an afternoon at your accommodation or exploring the township of Wanaka.

  • fitness advisable: basic
  • duration: half day, 4 hours total
  • cost: $460 pp including boat cruise
  • season: year round

Helicopter Glacier Flights
The ultimate heli traverse of the Southern Alps to circle Mt Aspiring, one of New Zealand's most beautiful mountains, with big permanant icefields and glaciers, two landings and a breathtaking return over Lake Wanaka. The flight lasts approximately one hour. Helicopters are the ultimate way to see the kind of wilderness New Zealand has to offer. Ultimate helicopter flight to Milford Sound also available.

  • fitness advisable: basic
  • duration: 1 hour
  • cost: from $495 per person
  • season: year round

Gourmet & Wine

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Winery Tours
Central Otago has burgeoned as the fastest growing wine region in New Zealand and the premier region for Pinot Noir wines. British winewriter Jancis Robinson MW listed Central Otago among the top five wine producing regions in the New World and Robert Parker has followed suit. Between 10 minutes and half an hour away are some of the first established wineries and some of the country's best. All small boutique wineries, where the owners and wine makers are equally passionate about their product. Small groups, lunch included on the full day tours.