Warbirds Over Wanaka Celebrates 30 Years

For three days over Easter, Wanaka becomes centre-stage for the world-famous Warbirds Airshow. This year the iconic event is celebrating its 30th anniversary so we chat with Warbirds GM Ed Taylor to find out what it takes to put on an event of this magnitude and what he loves about Wanaka.    

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Ed Taylor and I am General Manager of the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow. WOW is a biennial airshow attracting some 50,000 visitors over three days over Easter. The next airshow is taking place 10 - 12th April (Easter) 2020.

How do you prepare for an event like Warbirds?

Warbirds Over Wanaka is like a gigantic jig-saw.  We have all the pieces it’s just a matter of putting them all together correctly.  The event is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this Easter so it’s been around for a while.  That doesn’t mean we just roll out the same organising template from last airshow.  As soon as one airshow is completed planning starts on the next.  We go back to the drawing board every event and ask ourselves how can we make the next airshow even better.  We are all about providing a brilliant experience so not only will our visitors return but also the hundreds of volunteers required to make Warbirds the unique event it is.

What is your advice to someone attending Warbirds/Wanaka for the first time?

# 1 Buy the best ticket you can afford - the view from the big grandstands is pretty amazing

# 2 Make sure you get to the airfield nice and early (gates open at 7.30am with breakfast available from 8am).  This means you’ll beat the traffic and you will have a couple of hours to check out all the amazing ground displays before the non-stop aerial action starts at 10am.

What is something you love about Wanaka?

I love the fact Wanaka is small enough for people to care about each other but big enough to embrace people from around the world.

What’s your favourite season in Wanaka and why?

Autumn. You just can’t beat an autumnal day in Wanaka. Crisp air in the morning with dew on the grass then sunny and warm in the afternoon cooling again at night. Then repeat the next day!!  Throw in the autumn colours and you have the perfect place in the world to be.