South Island - New Zealand
Location of Wanaka
Wanaka is a town in the Central 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, there is massive growth occurring, up to 50% in 10 years.
The town is part of the Queenstown-Lakes District and was originally settled during the gold rush excitement of the 19th century.
The lake was first seen by a European in 1853, Nathanial Chalmers, but he was guided by a sketch map from Chief Te Huruhuru at Waimate.
This area was first settled by Europeans in the 1850s, with initial settling focusing around Albert Town.
This was the only spot to ford the Clutha River.
First surveying of the current Wanaka site occurred in 1863.
Settlement increased in Pembroke (the old name for Wanaka) in the 1870s because of the amount of timber milling in the Matukituki Valley and the use of Lake Wanaka for transport.
Tourism started in the town in 1867 with the opening of the first hotel, by Theodore Russell.
The site proved very popular for tourism 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 of the town is Queenstown(120 km (75 miles)), to the north Haast Pass cuts through the Southern Alps near Makarora.
To the northeast are the towns of Omarama and Twizel.
Very close to Lake Wanaka there also is Lake Hawea, in a parallel glacial valley, which also has a recently developed settlement of about 1,500 people.
To the south of the town lies more of the Southern alps but close to the town is the Glendu Bay motorpark, leading into the Matukituki River valley.
This gives access to the Mount Aspiring National Park.
The centre of the town is on flat , floodwater at the head of the lake. Parts of the town then grow up into the hills around the town and also around the lake in both directions.
This lake makes parts of the town prone to occasional flooding in spring, when heavy rain and snowmelt can cause the lake to rise dramatically, such as those in November 1999.
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) bringing the wettest months.
Annual rainfall is 682 mm which is half the national average.
Wanaka experiences hot dry summers where the temperature can reach the high 30s but averages 24°C.
Winter tends to have clear calm days with highs around 10°C.
These days, with its beautiful lake and mountain views, Wanaka has become a popular tourist resort, loved by many for being less commercialised than Queenstown.
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 3d maze, optical illusions and a leaning tower.
The Paradiso is a classic old cinema, with seating of old coaches, chairs and a car.
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.
* NZ Freeski open
* The biennial New Zealand music Rippon Festival
Wanaka is host to some of New Zealand's best outdoor recreation with world-class mountain biking, hiking, climbing, mountaineering, fishing, paragliding, and watersports of all kinds.
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, Mt Aspiring.
Mount Aspiring National Park is very popular for the mountaineering and hiking options.
Day trips are very common for most tourists and many people will be found in the park for up to a week at a time.
The other parts of the Matukituki Valley are popular for the rock climbing and walking opportunities.
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% man made 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 6900, an increase of approximately 50% in five years.
This is helped in part by the nearby towns of Hawea, Albert Town and Luggate, all within 10 minutes of Wanaka.
The number of retirees in the town is above average for New Zealand, with 16.8% of the towns population aged over 65.
New Zealand's normal rate is 12.1%.
About 39% of the town's population had some form of post school qualification, about 3.5% above the national average.
97% of people from Wanaka claimed to be of European heritage, about 17% above the national average.
The unemployment rate was exceptionally low in Wanaka, at 2.9%, compared to 3.7% for New Zealand.
The number of couples without children was close to 16% above the national average, while the number with children 7% lower.
Wanaka is part of the Otago electorate.
This electorate is currently represented by the New Zealand National Party's Jacqui Dean.
However, in the 2008 elections, Wanaka will be separated from Queenstown which will become part of Clutha Southland while Wanaka is part of the new Waitaki electorate.
Wanaka is serviced by Wanaka Airport as well as roads over Crown Range, from the West Coast and to the north.
There is served at least one flight daily to Christchurch by Air New Zealand.
During the 20th century an unsuccessful proposal was made for the Otago Central Railway to be extended to Wanaka.
For more information about Wanaka see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).
This information was correct in June 2009. E. & O.E.
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