Destination Guide: Wānaka and Cromwell

Located in beautiful Central Otago, Wānaka and Cromwell are synonymous with stunning natural beauty and a host of family-friendly fun activities.

Spring in New Zealand is a great time to get away for a family holiday, mini-break, or even just a weekend. To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together some of our favourite places to stay, eat and play so you can create wonderful memories with your family.

Please note: Venue information was correct at the time of publication. Please check with individual venues for the latest opening dates, times, prices, etc, before making plans.

Fun family experiences

Whether you’re looking for an adventure or your just want to smell the flowers, Wānaka and Cromwell have it all.

Wild Wire Wanaka

Wild Wire

Unleash your inner wild, tame your fears, and experience epic! Suitable for families and the hesitant adventurer through to experienced adrenalin hunters.

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Mou Waho

Eco Wanaka Adventures

Visit a lake, on an island, in a lake, on an island, on a half-day Mou Waho Island eco tour. Look out for some cheeky weka and be prepared to be enchanted by this beautiful lake cruise and island nature walk.

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Cardrona Mountain Carting

Cardrona Alpine Resort

The only mountain carting in New Zealand! Get yourself two hours of epic fun on the ski tracks during summer. Children under 8 years old can ride tandem (check for further conditions).

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Hook Wanaka

Hook

Catch a Chinook salmon then have it prepared for you to takeaway or dine in while the kids explore the other fun activities. All equipment provided.

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Wanaka Lavender Farm

Wanaka Lavender Farm

Stroll amongst the flowers, enjoy the stunning display gardens, then refuel with lavender ice-cream. The children can also meet some friendly farm animals and play games in the garden.

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Highlands Motorsport Park

Highlands Motorsport Park

There’s so much fun to be had with 12 activities on site including go karts and fast laps in a Ferrari or Porsche GT3! For the less adrenalin addicted there’s also a sculpture park, motorsport museum, and wine tasting. Don’t miss the quirky themed loos with one-way glass for a view with a difference!

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Heliview

Heliview

Enjoy a scenic helicopter flight and take in the enormous vistas that Central Otago has to offer.

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Goldfields Jet

Goldfields Jet

An ultimate jet boating experience with sheer cliff faces and giant boulders only inches from the edge of the boat! Then hold on even tighter for the 360° spin!

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Free family activities

Even if you’re travelling on a budget, there are still so many experiences you can enjoy with your family.

Wānaka

Mount Iron

Accessible from the Wānaka town side as well as Albert Town, the popular Mount Iron Track walk is a great way to blow off any travel cobwebs, as well as get your bearings.

Wānaka Skate Park

Located right in town on the edge of Pembroke Park, the recently upgraded skate park features a pool style bowl, vert wall, wave with gap feature, plus a traditional style bowl.

Blue Pools

Enjoy the easy 3km walk from the road through mature beech and podocarp forest, across a swing bridge and then on the flat with spectacular mountain views to the stunning glacier fed pools. One hour from Wānaka and 1.5 hours from Cromwell.

Become a Kiwi Guardian! Print off the Blue Pools adventure map before you head out, then find the Kiwi Guardian post and submit the special code word on it to receive a Kiwi Guardians certificate and medal.

Wānaka Dinosaur Park

Located right in Wānaka town centre and on the lake edge, the famous Dinosaur Park is a great spot to relax and let the kids play (and even a swim if the weather is warm).

Butterfields Wetland Walk

Small loop track over the Hāwea River Swing Bridge with stunning views of the surrounding wetland and peaks.

Become a Kiwi Guardian! Print off the Butterfields Wetlands adventure map before you head out, then find the Kiwi Guardian post and submit the special code word on it to receive a Kiwi Guardians certificate and medal.

Cromwell

Cromwell Heritage Precinct

When the Clyde Dam was built, Cromwell’s original main street disappeared under Lake Dunstan but some of the heritage buildings were taken to higher ground where you can explore them today. While exploring the quaint buildings in the Heritage Precinct, you can also go on a treasure hunt for five tiny decorative doors.

Bannockburn Sluicings

Pop Felton Road car park and information kiosk into the GPS and go and explore the remnants of the short lived gold mining era on this 3.5km loop walk.

Cromwell Petanque Club

Enjoy the spectacular Cromwell waterfront and a spot of petanque on the waterfront courtesy of the Cromwell Petanque Club.

 

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Come In Time

An easy 15 minute walk down to old mine entrances and a restored gold processing plant (also known as a battery).

Family friendly eateries

All the fresh mountain air will be making you all extra hungry but luckily there is an exciting selection of places to refuel. 

Cardrona Hotel

You won’t want to miss the classic Insta moment outside the Cardrona Hotel, but there’s a good food moment waiting inside! Choose from the extensive brunch, all day, and dinner menus (all featuring kids meals). If it’s warm, relax in the lovely outdoor area, or snuggle up beside the toasty fire inside to warm up.

Amigos

With restaurants in both Wanaka and Cromwell you’re guaranteed a fiesta no matter where you are! With a huge menu to choose from plus separate gluten-free and children’s menus there’s something for everyone. Special prices on tacos before 5pm.

 

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Urban Grind

Located in Wānaka, here you’ll find amazing scones and coffee plus a full day menu. In the evening, Urban Grind rounds out the day with a tasty tapas style menu.

Erik’s Fish and Chips

This legendary Wānaka food truck has been serving up fish and chips (and more) to travellers and locals for years. Dine at the truck, or wander down to Dinosaur Park to enjoy an alfresco treat.

Francesca’s Italian Kitchen

Pizza and pasta plus more, Francesca’s offers authentic Italian cuisine and hospitality right in the heart of Wānaka.

Big Fig

Slow food served fast! Make your own meal up from the amazing selection of deliciousness. Eat in or take across to the lake front for a picnic or on your next day trip.

Wānaka Artisan Market

If you are lucky enough to be in town late on a Thursday afternoon, head to the market for a selection of seasonal artisan produce, pastries, bread and more.

Where to stay

For family friendly stays, we recommend checking out the below. Or search here for holiday parks and campgrounds.

Edgewater

Edgewater Resort Hotel

Right on the edge of the lake, and not far from the famous Wānaka Tree, Edgewater has a range of rooms including two bedroom apartments that can sleep up to six guests. Facilities include a tennis court, 9 hole putting green, playground, petanque, and spa pools. The restaurant features their world famous in Wānaka made-to-order scones. You can also hire bikes and explore the trail right out front.

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Wanaka Hotel

Wānaka Hotel

Home to Amigo’s restaurant, the Wānaka Hotel is a budget and family friendly option in the town centre. Featuring expansive grounds, and located just up from the Dinosaur Park and lake front, Wānaka Hotel also enjoys stunning views.

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Ramada Resort By Wyndham

Ramada Resort by Wyndham

Featuring a lovely heated swimming pool with a waterslide plus a hot tub and one, two, and three bedroom apartments, the Ramada is a destination in itself. Just a short walk from the lake front and town.

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Oakridge

Oakridge Resort

Just out of town and on the road to Cardrona you will find Oakridge Resort. Oakridge has a variety of room options, 9 outdoor heated pools, an in-house restaurant, and is just up the road from a quirky Cinema.

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Main photo credit: Miles Holden
new zealand

If you’re looking for more family holiday ideas, itineraries, holiday deals and things to do, visit newzealand.com for more inspiration. 

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Written by Kidspot New Zealand in partnership with Tourism New Zealand.

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