A flood is again heading towards Lake Wanaka - not a
surplus of water, but a deluge of triathletes arriving for
Saturday's Challenge Wanaka endurance race.
Fifteen hundred competitors with, on average, five supporters
each, are flowing into the town
for one of the biggest annual sporting events in Otago.
Challenge Wanaka organiser Victoria Murray-Orr estimates the
event is worth $6 million to the region in direct spending.
And she says the event also has a valuable indirect benefit.
''This year, we have magazines flying in from the United
States, from Europe and Australia to cover the event.
''One of those magazines is doing a feature on dream
''Lake Wanaka Tourism couldn't afford to take out a six-page
advertising spread in that magazine but we get the
editorial,'' she said.
Wanaka Chamber of Commerce chairman Alistair King agreed the
event put Wanaka on the map as a ''premium multisport
Putting on such a large event came with challenges, but it
contributed positively to the local economy, he said.
''We hope the businesses of Wanaka make the most of the
competitors and visitors in town to make a positive impact of
Kai Whakapai Cafe co-owner Roger North expects to be ''mega
busy'' on race day.
He said with the exception of New Year's Day, when heavy rain
meant coffees were in hot demand, Challenge Wanaka was the
biggest day of the year for the business.
''It's huge for food and coffee and has no effect on alcohol.
They're all a fit bunch of people,'' Mr North said of his
''What used to be the two busiest weeks of summer ... it
effectively extends it for a three-week period ... it's a
very big deal for the town financially.''
Extra staff will be rostered at the cafe to cope with the
influx on Saturday. Mr North, on the other hand, will be
competing in a team in the event, and his wife Shonagh will
do the entire race as an individual for the fourth time.
Ms Murray-Orr said the race's benefits included improvements
being made to the town's infrastructure and upskilling of
volunteers in things like first aid and traffic control.