Wanaka is a small town, but our population has chosen to move here from towns all over New Zealand, and countries all around the world. Through travel, work and outdoor recreational sports, many who live in Wanaka have become aware of the need to conserve our resources and preserve the beautiful environment we live in. As a small town deep in the mountains, there’s no point waiting for someone else to do it for you. When it comes to sustainability, Wanaka residents have a do-it-yourself attitude which makes things happen quickly.Wanaka Wastebusters. The community gathered together in working bees and built the recycling centre on donated council land. Wanaka Wastebusters has evolved into a substantial community enterprise with 30 employees and a $1.5 million turnover. The enterprise is still owned and run by the community, with all profits going back into providing extra services for Wanaka and Hawea.
Wanaka Wastebusters now carries out household recycling collections, business collections and sets the standard for events recycling in the South Island. In partnership with Queenstown Lakes District Council, Wastebusters funds an Enviroschools facilitator who works with primary schools in the Lakes District. To reach its goal of 70 percent diversion of waste from landfill by 2014, Wanaka Wastebusters also lobbies for change in the way our country uses resources.
In 2009, Wanaka Wastebusters was instrumental in setting up GetReal, a national campaign to encourage betterresource use. The first target was free supermarket shopping bags, building on a four year Wanaka campaign called “Bag the Habit”. Bag the Habit had inspired Wanaka shoppers to embrace alternatives to plastic bags, with more than 40 percent choosing to use alternatives.
After a high-profile South Island tour to support a levy on plastic bags, the pressure created by GetReal worked. One of New Zealand’s two supermarket chains, Foodstuffs, stopped giving plastic bags away. Unfortunately Foodstuffs eventually backtracked on their decision, illustrating the need for Government leadership on resource issues. GetReal has also run a campaign for improved packaging, supported by over 1,000 people, and a Grimescene investigation of roadside littering.
Side by side with Wanaka Wastebusters stands Sustainable Wanaka, a charitable trust born from the Wanaka 2020 visioning exercise. The Wanaka community said it’s up to us to work hard to protect this beautiful place and build our community in a more sustainable way. Since its formation in 2005, Sustainable Wanaka’s focus has been on the two biggest industries in town: tourism and construction.
Working with Lake Wanaka Tourism, Sustainable Wanaka has taken 65 tourism businesses through intensive analysis and sustainability action programmes. Each business, whether accommodation, transport, retail or activity-based, has worked hard to achieve the sustainable vision they developed during the programme.
In the last 10 years Wanaka has experienced rapid population growth and a housing boom to match this growth. Sustainable Wanaka has developed a set of sustainable building guidelines that are specific to this area (climate and regulations). The Eco Design Adviser project provided free advice to homeowners and renters looking for a more sustainable approach. It was jointly funded by Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Ministry for the Environment’s Sustainable Management Fund. Eco Design advice can now be obtained by emailing Seed consultancy.
Other community trusts have focused on protecting and improving Wanaka’s beautiful landscape, and making it accessible for recreational purposes. Te Kakano is a community trust which established a native plant nursery on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Te Kakano, which is Maori for the seed, specialises in propagating plants of local origin for its own revegetation projects, and for tree plantings by other community groups. Te Kakano is located on donated land, and run largely by volunteers.
Revegetation projects in Wanaka have been taking place on islands in Lake Wanaka. Mou Waho is a striking island close to the centre of Lake Wanaka, which is known for having its own lake, which in turn has its own islands. Islands on a lake on an island on a lake. Ruby Island, close to the shores of Lake Wanaka, has also been extensively replanted in native plants by volunteers.
The Upper Clutha Tracks Trust is a non-profit organisation dedicated to developing a high quality network of public trails around Wanaka. Highlights of the past year have been the completion of the Hawea to Albert Town river track, the completion of the Millenium Track to Glendhu Bay, and the start of the Albert Town to Luggate track along the river.
In 2009 the Wanaka Farmers Market was successfully set up by a community trust. While still developing, the market has provided a much needed venue for local producers to sell directly to consumers. Local produce for sale at the market includes merino lamb, vegetables, bread, honey, olive oil, fruit and cheese. The farmers markets run on Saturday mornings at Pembroke Park, during summer.