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 as this was the only place to ford the Clutha River. The present site of Wanaka was first surveyed in 1863. Settlement increased in Pembroke (the old name for Wanaka) in the 1870s because 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 land beside Roy’s Bay. Parts of the town have grown into the hills around the town and also 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 dramatically. Such a flood occurred 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) being the wettest months. Annual rainfall is 682 mm which is half the national average. Wanaka experiences hot dry summers with temperatures reaching the high 30s but the average is 24°C Wanaka Weather Information. Winter tends to have clear calm days with highs around 10°C.
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.
Nikon D700 & Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens