There may be some interesting dinner parties over the next few months as some Wanaka proposed changes to the infrastructure that will significantly affect the fundamental nature of our community, are thrashed out. With respect to each of the proposals there are two sides to the camps of support with not a lot of sitting on the fence.

As the infrastructure of Wanaka stands at the moment the town is not the paradise to live in that it was 5 years ago. This will change significantly, even as soon as the end of this year, when the new supermarket opens in Three Parks. Having only one supermarket in the middle of the town impacts on parking, traffic flow and of course the time spent shuffling and queuing in the aisles.

With the development of Three Parks the nature of the central business district will change. Retailers are aware of wanting to maintain the vibrant business district that exists. Planning at Three Parks is ensuring that tourist related retail businesses remain at the lakefront.

A draft master plan has been released by the Queenstown Lakes District Council which is aiming to change the center of Wanaka to not only deal with the population (resident and tourist) growing pains, but to make the center of town a more special destination which reflects the special nature of the lakeside location.

There are issues related to this new master plan from many stakeholders, but for many individuals and groups it is seen as visionary.

Concerns are raised by the businesses in the town centre who see that diverting traffic and parking away from the waterfront and pedestrianising the streets adjacent to the lakefront as a recipe for revenue loss.  

The main green space on the waterfront is proposed to be moved forward so that the road between it and the lakeside reserve are linked and the existing road land is swopped for land at the rear of the park where more parking will be added.

New roads through the town and its periphery will aim to provide a more fluid flow of traffic. One of the roads has the golf club members struggling to come to terms with the changes that this will mean to part of their course.

The public is urged to see the document as a draft and to engage in feedback on the plans.

The other major issue faced by the community relates to the development of the Wanaka airport into a 400 million dollar facility which will operate in a dual airport scenario with the Queenstown airport. Part of the problem appears to be the lack of transparency that the Queenstown Airport Corporation has had with the community. The implications for the town draw comparisons for the situation that Queenstown sees itself in today with respect to groaning under the strain of the population influx that is driven by the airport. Many see this as an opportunity to review the implications of tourism to the region and rethink the whole model that New Zealand exposes itself to and to consider the wider South Island with respect to the inflow of the masses.

So………….. in essence if you are visiting friends in Wanaka this ski season it may be prudent to avoid these conversations unless you are prepared to sit in a neutral position!!!!