|Operator||Wanaka Town Board and Management Committee|
|Hub for||Aspiring Air|
|Elevation AMSL||1,142 ft / 348 m|
Wanaka Airport (IATA: WKA, ICAO: NZWF) is an airport serving the resort town of Wanaka in Otago, New Zealand. The airport currently has no scheduled commercial flights, with Air New Zealand having ceased flights to the airport in 2013, but it serves as a base for scenic and charter flights to destinations such as Milford Sound and Mount Aspiring National Park. The airport is located beside State Highway 6, on a plateau above the small village of Luggate, and is 10 km south-east of Wanaka township. It was originally a private airstrip owned by Tim Wallis, but in 1985 it became the main commercial airport for Wanaka, replacing Mt Iron Aerodrome.
The Warbirds over Wanaka air show has been held biennially at the airport since 1988, regularly attracting crowds of more than 50,000 people. Other attractions, including the National Transport and Toy Museum and the Warbirds & Wheels Museum, are also located at the airport.
Wanaka was originally served by Mount Iron Aerodrome. By the early 1980s it was clear a new airport would be required to serve the town's growing tourism industry as Mount Iron's runway was too short for commercial aircraft with no possibility of extension. In 1984, the local council decided to create a new airport for the town by expanding a private airstrip to the south-east of the town, which had been owned by Tim Wallis.
On 19 March 2004, Air New Zealand began scheduled services from Wanaka to Christchurch through its subsidiary Eagle Airways, using 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D aircraft. Larger aircraft, such as the Dash8-Q300, were occasionally used during periods of increased demand and airshow weekends. Air New Zealand ended scheduled services to Wanaka on 30 January 2013 after stating the route had never been profitable and showed no signs of improvement. Following the withdrawal of the national carrier, local businesses attempted to run a charter service during the ski season and asked Air New Zealand to consider reinstating services on a seasonal basis using larger aircraft, although neither of these efforts proved successful.
Scenic and charter operators are the main commercial users and include Aspiring Air, Glenorchy Air and Southernalpsair. There are extensive skydiving and helicopter operations and a large number of general aviation aircraft are based at the airport. Although scheduled services have been withdrawn, Air New Zealand operates limited charter services during air show weekends. On 2 November 2020, Sounds Air commenced daily services between Christchurch and Wanaka utilising a PC-12.
The runway's Pavement Classification Number (PCN) is too low to cope with heavier aircraft and the length of the runway prevents certain aircraft from using the airport. However, the airport has consent rights to extend the current runway westward by 500 metres, with an additional 240 metres for standard overrun requirements.
The size of the terminal limits aircraft passenger capacity; larger aircraft such as the Dash8-Q300 and ATR 72 are still able to operate but the airport's facilities are not designed to handle the larger number of the passengers these aircraft carry.
Airlines and destinations
- "Warbirds and Wheels - Contact and find us". Warbirds and Wheels. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- "Air New Zealand - History" (PDF). Air New Zealand. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- "Eagle Air suspends flights to Wanaka". Voxy. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- "Tours and Charters". Warbirds Over Wanaka. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- "Wanaka to Christchurch service takes off". Otago Daily Times. 2 November 2020. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
- "Sounds Air confirms November start date for Christchurch to Wanaka service". Retrieved 21 August 2020.