|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 Mt Iron Aerodrome, but by the early 1980s it was clear that a new airport would be needed to serve the town’s growing tourism industry, as Mount Iron’s runway wasn’t long enough for commercial aircraft, and there was no room to extend it. 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 International Airport through its subsidiary Eagle Airways, using 19 seater Beechcraft 1900D aircraft. Larger aircraft, such as the Dash8-Q300, were occasionally used during periods of increased demand, including airshow weekends. Air New Zealand ended scheduled services to Wanaka on 30 January 2013, stating that the route had never been profitable and was showing no signs of improvement. Following the withdrawal of the national carrier, local businesses attempted to run a charter service during the ski season and have asked Air New Zealand to consider re-instating services on a seasonal basis using larger aircraft, although neither of these efforts proved successful.
Scenic and charter operators are the main commercial users of the airport, and include Aspiring Air, Glenorchy Air and Southern alpsair. There are also 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 to the airport during air show weekends.
The runway’s Pavement Classification Number (PCN) value 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 meters, with an additional 240 meters for standard overrun requirements.
The size of the terminal limits the passenger capacity of aircraft serving the airport; larger aircraft (such as Dash8-Q300 and ATR 72) are still able to operate into the airport, but the airport’s facilities are not designed to cope with the larger number of the passengers these aircraft carry.
The lack of a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) beacon at the airport poses an issue, as few aircraft have appropriate GPS systems to enable non-precision instrument approaches in bad weather.