Aussie expat Nick Frame’s guide to the best of Wanaka, New Zealand

Lake Wanaka New Zealand
Photo: Lake Wanaka Tourism

Wanaka, New Zealand – where the lake meets the mountains and offers up a little slice of paradise. With both Treble Cone and Cardrona nearby, Wanaka is the ultimate spot for a New Zealand holiday.

It’s more relaxed than Queenstown and with plenty of great dining spots, luxe boutique holiday rentals and incredible skiing and snowboarding at your doorstep.

Nick Frame has lived in Wanaka for 14 years, running Release Wanaka (Luxury Holiday Rentals & Experiences). He knows Wanaka because he sells Wanaka. Here he gives us the ultimate insider tips for the best local spots to ski, eat and play.

Why Wanaka?

wanaka wharf
Wanaka Wharf. Photo via Wanaka Tourism

After living in Crested Butte, Colorado for 3-years and really enjoying the active, outdoor lifestyle. I was on the look-out for a mountain town, a bit closer to my home town, Melbourne, Australia. I discovered Wanaka on a ski trip (it’s very much like Crested Butte in many ways) and recognised its potential to become one of the world’s great outdoor playgrounds.

I saw an opportunity to promote luxury rental properties and help visitors really experience this stunning region with the help of my insider’s knowledge. Release Wanaka was born.

Favourite ski/board run

Motatapu Chutes, Treble Cone. You’ll need to be an advanced to expert skier or boarder to tackle these.

Treble Cone

Where do you head on a powder day?

One of the local heli-ski operations.

heli skiing boarding wanaka
Heli skiing in Wanaka. Photo via Wanaka Tourism

Favourite après spot

Urban Grind for the local micro brews.

Favourite village dining

Currently my favorite is KIKA – Casual, easy and consistently good food & excellent local micro brews.

Best coffee

Little Black Caravan does an excellent cappuccino. You’ll find them in the ‘industrial area’ of town.

Little Black Caravan Wanaka
Little Black Caravan Wanaka

Best breakfast

Federal Diner on Helwick Street down town.

Favourite non skiing/boarding activity

Mountain Biking at Deans Bank is a favourite and I cannot wait for the new MTB ranch at Glendu Bay.

Where do you take visitors to impress them?

A quick walk up Mt Iron on the edge of town normally does the trick.

mt ironjll x
Mount Iron. Photo via Wanaka Tourism

Best activity for families

Skiing, biking, hiking, fishing or boating… take your pick.

Any other tips

My advice is avoid the peak times. Stay a while and use Wanaka as a base for adventures. Get outdoors and explore our amazing playground.

Visit during August and September for the best skiing and mid to late January to April for the most settled weather.

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

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