Fun things to do around Wānaka with kids
Looking for fun activities for the whole family around Wānaka? We have put together a collection of free activities around the Wānaka area. The aim is for you to discover more about our stunning lakes and rivers and find some new favourite spots around the Upper Clutha basin.
Download our Wānaka activity sheet
Find one of our Wānaka activity sheets at the Wānaka library, iSite or local accommodation providers or click here to download your copy.
Count The Grebe / Kāmana
The Southern Crested Grebe / Kāmana is a rather spectacular large waterbird with a long sharp bill, long neck and prominent crest. Grebes nest on platforms in the lake, you can find them along the edge of the lake past the dinosaur park. Please be respectful and only view them from afar. Find out more about the Wānaka Grebe here.
Count the Kāmana (Grebes) and see if there are any young riding on their parents backs!
TIP: Along the way you can discover another Wānaka water treasure, the Wānaka Spring. Cool off your hands in the beautiful clear water or re-fill your drink bottle on a hot day. (Please note, the springwater and is not treated or monitored.)
Along the Boardwalk
Bullock Creek is one of Wānaka’s special water treasures. Visit the beautiful boardwalk (107 Stone St) established by the Friends of Bullock Creek, and see if you can spot some fish in the crystal clear waters.
What sort of fish can you find in Bullock Creek? Are these fish native?
TIP: Once you’ve been to the boardwalk, see if you can find the place where Bullock Creek joins Lake Wānaka.
Find a Diamond
Diamond Lake is hidden away below Rocky Hill in the Matukituki Valley. It’s the perfect place to visit on a calm early morning when the water of the lake is glassy and reflective. It’s a short walk to the lake, but well worth climbing up to the lookout: 2km return (lots of stairs) or if you’re feeling fit, all the way to the top of Rocky Hill!
How did the lake get its precious name?
A SNIPPET OF HISTORY: There are records from the 1930’s of people skating on Diamond Lake. It was one of Wanaka’s earliest tourist attractions!
Race along the biggest River in the South island
The Clutha River / Mata-Au flows 338km from Lake Wānaka to Balclutha and pours out around 6,800 bath tubs per second into the Pacific Ocean! Walk or ride along the beautiful fisherman’s track from the lake outlet to Albert Town. Can you keep up with the fast current?
How many litres of water flow out of Lake Wānaka every second?
INTERESTING FACTS: One standard bath tub holds around 90 litres of water. The Clutha river discharges around 614,000 litres/second! In New Zealand, the average person uses 227 litres of water per day. Find more NZ water stats here.
Cross the swing bridge and discover a Wetland
The Butterfield Wetland is a great afternoon trip of exploration for young and old. Once you’ve crossed the swing bridge over the Hāwea River, the wetland walk is a 2.4km looptrack or 600m from the swing bridge. Tip: it’s well worth the view to climb up the bank on the loop track! Wetlands improve water quality and are often described as the kidneys of the landscape. They also support a variety of native birds, fish, invertebrates, and plants.
What kind of creatures can you spot in or around the wetland?
TIP: Identify a range of native plants that grow around the edge of the wetland with our native plants poster.
Spot the Longfin Eels / Tuna
Did you know that the most common fish spotted under the main wharf on the lakefront are longfin eels?
It’s best to let them feed themselves. Human food, such as old bread, is not good for their digestive system.
If you have goggles and can swim, you can jump off the wharf on a calm hot day and watch them from under the water. See if you can spot any other aquatic animals while you’re there.
What is the Māori word for eels? Are they a native species?
INTERESTING FACTS: Eels eat ‘live’ food and use their sense of smell to locate their prey at night.
Picnic at the Lagoon
Albert Town has a little treasure at its heart. The lagoon has been planted with native trees and shrubs over the last few years to help improve water quality and increase habitat for native biodiversity. Bring a picnic and play our nature treasure hunt with the kids.
Can you find and identify 3 native trees or shrubs that have been planted around the edge of the lagoon?
INTERESTING FACTS: Planting along the banks of waterways is called riparian planting, from the latin word ‘ripa: bank’. WAI Wānaka has been involved in a number of riparian planting projects with Te Kākano Aoteroa Trust.
For other things to do, check out our events page for WAI Wānaka’s upcoming community events or regular volunteer opportunities out on the lake. Or if you’re getting excited about looking after our waterways, check out these tips and tricks you can do to care for our freshwater.