Once a sleepy, lakeside town, Wanaka, New Zealand, is now a center for outdoor action. Quieter, more relaxed and less commercial than Queenstown, which is 68 mi/110 km to the south, Wanaka and its lake are surrounded by mountains. It is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, where opportunities for rock climbing and canyoning abound.

In winter, Wanaka offers rapid access to top-rated ski resorts. Every two years, it hosts "Warbirds over Wanaka," an airshow that attracts pilots and spectators from all over New Zealand and beyond. In alternate years, it hosts the Southern Lakes Festival of Colour; Wanaka is particularly picturesque during autumn, as the scenery changes with the approach of winter.

For another perspective over these landscapes, try a sky dive. Mountain biking is another of Wanaka's strengths, with everything from terrain parks to cross-country tracks and riverside trails on offer. The region's lakes and rivers also afford excellent fishing.

Wanaka also makes an ideal luxury getaway destination, with many upscale accommodation and recreation offerings, from private helicopter tours to boutique wineries.

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