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Is Wānaka NZ’s perfect winter town?

Discover why Wānaka is New Zealand’s perfect winter town. From world-class ski areas to a vibrant adventure culture and incredible views. Wānaka has it all.

When looking for a winter getaway, Wānaka is the perfect town. Winter brings Wānaka to life like no other place in New Zealand and draws guests from across the country and the globe to enjoy its unique offerings. Unparalleled scenery, down-to-earth locals, and a lively spark of adventure are embedded in this Alpine town. And the best thing? Wānaka has your back when you want to spend the day on the slopes. With two ski areas in close range, the town is equipped with everything you need for a seamless experience enjoying the snowy mountains. 

Nestled between two favourite ski areas

Wānaka is perfectly located between two of New Zealand’s favourite ski areas, Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone.

Cardrona is located 45 minutes along the Cardrona Valley and Cardrona Mountain Road, and is renowned for its wide-open slopes, world-class terrain parks, groomed runs and welcoming atmosphere. It’s the perfect ski area for everyone - from first-timers to professional athletes, but especially families, groups, and those looking to start learning a snow sport.

Meanwhile, Treble Cone is a real local’s mountain and has a reputation for being the home of skiing in Wānaka. Offering exhilarating terrain, some of the best freeride, and the longest verticals in the country, all set amongst classic Wānaka panoramic views, it attracts skiers and snowboarders wanting to progress to the next level from far and wide. Treble Cone is similarly around 45 minutes from the town centre, travelling along the Wānaka Mt Aspiring Road, before turning onto the Treble Cone Mountain Road.

You’ll find busses, shuttles, and even ride shares, going from Wānaka to both mountains, so access from this winter town is easy as.

How to get to Cardrona and Treble Cone


The thing that brings people back to Wānaka, again and again, is the unbelievable winter views the town delivers. Snow-drenched Mount Aspiring, bright blue skies contrasted against a bright blue Lake Wānaka, and crisp, frosty mornings are all in a day’s work. Go for a peaceful walk around the lake, up the short and steep Mt Iron, or better yet, choose a bluebird day and head up Cardrona or Treble Cone.

From the peak of Cardrona on the clearest days, you might see as far as Aoraki Mount Cook, the tallest in New Zealand. Otherwise, you’re treated to meadows of snow-blanketed Alps, frosted valleys, and views of Tāhuna Queenstown and Lake Whakatipu beyond. Treble Cone has another view entirely. Look out across the stillness of Lake Wānaka and Mount Aspiring and feel truly on top of the world.

When you can just about drag yourself away from the views, don’t ski off just yet! Cardrona and Treble Cone both have mountain-top bars to enjoy; head to Vista Bar on Cardrona for a celebratory glass of NZ bubbles, or Altitude Bar at Treble Cone for a mug of something hot to warm your hands with.

Explore trail maps.

Warm up by the fire

In addition to its natural wonders, Wānaka won’t let you get hungry, thirsty, or cold! Guests of the area can indulge in a wide variety of cuisines, sample some of the local craft beers from the welcoming breweries, and immerse themselves in the vibrant culture of the area.

If you’re up the mountains skiing or snowboarding, Cardrona and Treble Cone have a wide variety of eateries to graze at throughout your day. Choose from noodles to pizza, and quick grab ‘n’ go bites to heath-conscious foods. There’s something for every appetite, even the pickiest eaters!

And when you’ve polished off a day on the slopes, you can regroup with the mates you’ve met on the chairlift, the locals who have shown you around, and your wider crew at Après, in Wānaka! With a bustling bar, a toasty open fire, and woodfired pizzas and sharing plates on-menu, this place epitomizes the town's après-ski culture, while warming you up like no place else.

Read more about what to do at Après.

Day off?

If you’re thinking all you’ll want to do in Wānaka is ski, then you won’t be far off the mark. But everyone needs rest days, especially when the weather isn’t looking its best. On days like these, Wānaka is equipped with everything you might need to entertain yourself and your crew. Wanting walks in the area? Tick off Mt Iron, Rob Roy’s Glacier, or Roy’s Peak. Perhaps you’re keen to engage your brain, in which case, pay a visit to the legendary Puzzling World. Or maybe you’d like to simply rest up, and take refuge in one of Wānaka’s many craft breweries and chat with the locals.

If the weather is looking like indoor activities only, head back over to Après, and take a seat in the quirky cinema, Ruby’s. An independent through and through, you’ll find films here from crowd-pleasing blockbusters to that film you’ve wanted to watch for ages but can’t find playing anywhere! With fancy cocktails and desserts on-menu, warm blankets, and cosy seats, this is the ultimate place to snuggle in on one of those stormy winter days.

Full of helping hands

The other great thing about Après is its location in Wānaka. If you want to book lessons, lift passes, rentals, or even chat with some mountain folk, everything you could need you can get before heading up the mountain. The Après teams work for Cardrona and Treble Cone, so they can sort out any needs you have before you head back up the mountain to ski and ride again. If it’s rentals, you can pick them up there and then. If you’re after lessons, they’ll book you onto them with no fuss, all while you sit with a fresh scone and a cup of tea and relax with beautiful Wānaka views. Après is the best time-saver, and means all you need to do when you get up to the ski field is grab your morning coffee fix and hit the slopes, nothing more!

So, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on a winter getaway in Wānaka, the perfect location for your ski holiday, blending adventure, relaxation, and natural beauty. Whether you're carving up the slopes at Cardrona and Treble Cone, savouring a wood-fired pizza by the fire at Après, or simply taking in the unparalleled landscapes, Wānaka promises an unforgettable winter experience for any guest.

Cardrona winter dates: June 15 – October 13, 2024 Lift Passes

Treble Cone winter dates: June 29 – September 29, 2024 Lift Passes

(Subject to snow, weather, and operating conditions)

Daily operations from 8.30am – 4pm

About the Author

Eleanor Stephens