|— Town —|
|Territorial authority||Queenstown Lakes District|
|Elevation||290 m (950 ft)|
|Population (2006 census)|
|Time zone||NZST (UTC+12)|
|• Summer (DST)||NZDT (UTC+13)|
Wanaka (pron.: //) is a town in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. It is situated at the southern end of Lake Wanaka, adjacent to the outflow of the lake to the Clutha River. It is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park. Wanaka is primarily a resort town but has both summer and winter seasons and is based around the many outdoor opportunities. Due to the growing tourism business and the increasing number of retirees in Wanaka, large growth is occurring, with a population increase of up to 50% in the past 10 years.
The first European in the area was Nathaniel Chalmers, who was guided inland by Chief Reko in 1853. Maori knowledge of the region is evidenced by an earlier sketch map from Chief Te Huruhuru at Waimate.
European settlement began in the Upper Clutha River Valley in the 1850s, with the establishment of sheep stations by runholders. The first station was at Albert Town, the only place where settlers could ford the Clutha River. The present site of Wanaka was first surveyed in 1863, and settlement increased in Pembroke (the old name for Wanaka) during the 1870s because of timber milling in the Matukituki Valley and the use of Lake Wanaka for transport. Tourism in the town began in 1867 with the opening of the first hotel, by Theodore Russell. Wanaka proved a very popular tourist destination because of its temperate climate and easy access to snow and water.
Pembroke was renamed Wanaka in 1940.
The town of Wanaka is situated at the southern end of Lake Wanaka. It is surrounded by mountains. To the southwest is the Crown Range and township of Queenstown (120 kilometres (75 mi)); to the north the Haast Pass cuts through the Southern Alps near Makarora. To the northeast are the towns of Omarama and Twizel. Very close to Lake Wanaka is Lake Hawea, in a parallel glacial valley, which has a recently developed settlement of about 1,500 people. To the south of the town lies more of the Southern Alps. The Glendhu Bay motorpark is close to the town, leading into the Matukituki River valley. This gives access to the Mount Aspiring National Park.
The centre of the town lies on flat land beside Roy's Bay. Parts of the town have expanded into the hills surrounding the centre and around Roy's Bay in both directions. The lakeside area of the town is prone to occasional flooding in spring, when heavy rain and snowmelt can cause the lake to rise quickly. Such a flood occurred in November 1999.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2012)|
Wanaka is one of the few areas in New Zealand to enjoy a continental climate, with four distinct seasons. The weather is fairly dry with spring (September–December) being the wettest season. Annual rainfall is 682 mm which is half the national average. Wanaka experiences warm summers with temperatures reaching the high 20s, but with an all-round average of 24°C. Winter can be extreme with temperature mostly in the single digits during the day time followed by extremely cold and frosty nights and frequent snowfalls.
Wanaka boasts a growing number of excellent restaurants, cafes and a diverse nightlife. Other attractions in the town include Puzzling World and the Paradiso Cinema. Puzzling World contains a maze, optical illusions and a leaning clocktower. The Paradiso is a classic old cinema, with seating consisting of old couches and an in-theatre Morris Minor. There are a number of wineries in the area.
- The biennial Warbirds over Wanaka airshow, has become a major attraction for national and international guests.
- Wanakafest 
- NZ Freeski open
- The biennial New Zealand music Rippon Festival 
- Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival
Wanaka is host to some of New Zealand's best outdoor recreation and tourism activities with world-class hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, fishing, paragliding, kayaking, rafting, jetboating, and environmental activities of all kinds suitable for adventure seeking people and families. With one of New Zealand's sunniest climates, Wanaka is truly an adventure paradise. It is the access point to the highest mountain outside of the Mount Cook region, Mount Aspiring/Tititea.
Mount Aspiring National Park is very popular for mountaineering and hiking. Tourists enjoy day trips into the park and many tourists go hiking in the park for up to a week at a time. Parts of the Matukituki Valley on the road to the park are also very popular for rock climbing, and for day walks.
Lake Wanaka itself is popular for waterskiing, wakeboarding and sailing. This along with the local rivers provide many opportunities for fishing. There is a dedicated mountain biking area made by volunteers in a local pine forest. All the local ski resorts open for mountain biking and hiking in the summer.
Wanaka has the broadest range of snow activity choices of any town in NZ. These include Treble Cone, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Park and Snow Farm, some of New Zealand's premier commercial ski fields. Wanaka is the main accommodation provider for these resorts and so is very busy in high season (July–September).
Treble Cone has a reputation among New Zealanders as having the best lift accessed terrain in the country and for this reason has developed a cult following, 'ConeHeads'. It also catches some of the better snow in the area, with its location and orientation getting more snow from NW storms. Cardrona is more attractive to families and beginners, though an attempt has been made at the park riding population in competition with SnowPark. Snowpark is a dedicated 100% artificial terrain park for advanced riders. Snow Farm is New Zealand's only commercial cross-country ski field.
The town is experiencing considerable growth. According to the 2006 census the permanent resident population of the area is 7,008, an increase of approximately 33% in five years. This is helped in part by the nearby towns of Hawea, Albert Town and Luggate, all within 10 minutes drive of Wanaka. The number of retirees in the town is above average for New Zealand, with 13.2% of the towns population aged over 65. New Zealand's normal rate is 12.3%. 52.4% of the town's population had some form of post school qualification, 12.5% above the national average.
82.2% of people from Wanaka claimed to be of European heritage, about 15% above the national average. The unemployment rate was exceptionally low in Wanaka, at 1.9%, compared to 5.1% for New Zealand. The number of couples without children was 17.4% above the national average, while the number with children almost 7% lower.
Wanaka is serviced by the Wanaka Airport as well as by roads over the Crown Range, from the West Coast and to the north via State Highways 6 and 84. There is at least one flight daily to Christchurch by Air New Zealand until January 2013. Bus services to Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Invercargill and Greymouth operate daily.
During the early 20th century an unsuccessful proposal was made for the Otago Central Railway, then terminated at Cromwell, to be extended to Wanaka and onward to Hawea.  The main reason for NZR's reluctance was having to cross the Clutha river twice. A more direct route to Hawea was planned but dropped due to cost.
- Quickstats about Wanaka
- "Wanaka Early History". Lake Wanaka Visitor Information Centre. Retrieved 2007-03-24.
- Wanaka History, Wanaka Information Guide, 1999-2001, Accessed 23/4/07
- "Oamaru Times Report on the first Recorded Trial in the World Tuesday, April 30, 1867," Dogfind.co.nz. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- Civil Defence article (PDF)
- Queenstown Lakes District Council - Adoption of Flood Risk Management Strategy (PDF)
- Wanaka and Treble Cone, New Zealand, Best Western New Zealand, Accessed 6/3/7
- Puzzling World's website
- Cinema Paradiso, Wanaka, New Zealand
- 'Lake Wanaka Cycling Map', Lake Wanaka Cycling Inc, 2004
- Treble Cone, Wanaka, New Zealand Accessed 6/3/7
- Cardrona Alpine Resort Accessed 6/3/7
- The figures are an amalgamation of the census areas of Wanaka (Quickstats about Wanaka), Hawea (Quickstats about Hawea) and Matukituki (Quickstats about Matukituki)
- 2006 Census figures, taken from Quickstats about Wanaka and compared to national figures at Quickstats about New Zealand
- Official Count Results -- Waitaki 2008 election results, Elections New Zealand
- Over the Garden Wall/History of the Otago Central Railway - Jim Dagerfield
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Wanaka|
- Wanaka promotions site
- Warbirds over Wanaka website
- Wanaka travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Wanaka Street Map
- Sustainable Wanaka Charitable Trust