Challenge Wānaka returns to Pembroke Park

Standing on the shore of Lake Wānaka are Challenge Wanaka event director Jane Sharman (left) and...
Standing on the shore of Lake Wānaka are Challenge Wanaka event director Jane Sharman (left) and Gallagher Insurance Southern Lakes manager Sandy MacLeod. Photo: Regan Harris
Four years after moving out to Glendhu Bay, Challenge Wānaka is coming home.

In a statement released this afternoon, the Challenge Wānaka Sports Trust announced the annual triathlon would be returning to Wānaka’s Pembroke Park for the first time since 2020.

Event director Jane Sharman told the Otago Daily Times while Glendhu Station had been an "amazing" venue since its debut in 2021, there was a strong desire among many involved in the event to see it move closer to town.

"I think it’s (Glendhu) been a really great move in terms of finding something new … but it’s time to try to bring it back."

Mrs Sharman said a survey sent out to stakeholders last year had delivered a "very clear indication" people wanted the event to return to Wānaka, and that such a move would help improve the festival's visibility.

The move will see every event from the three-day festival, including the Challenge Wānaka Half and the various youth events, shift their hubs to Pembroke Park.

Swimming events will also start on the Wānaka lakefront.

The trust was working closely with the Queenstown Lakes District Council to ensure they could "minimise the impact and maximise everyone’s enjoyment" of the festival, Mrs Sharman said.

"We’ve still got all the work to do to actually push it forward but they’re supportive of it."

2025’s festival would also feature a name change, following a new partnership with Gallagher Insurance as the festival’s new naming sponsor.

Gallagher Insurance, formerly known as Crombie Lockwood, had served as the festival’s volunteer sponsor for several years and the company was "really excited" to deepen their connection to the event, Southern Lakes manager Sandy MacLeod said.

"Our association with Challenge Wānaka demonstrates Gallagher’s ongoing commitment to supporting initiatives that stimulate local communities.

"Challenge Wānaka not only showcases the incredible athleticism and determination of its participants, but it also fosters a sense of community and support for local businesses."

The festival has gone through several evolutions since it began in 2007, including the phasing out of the full 226km event in 2018.

Mrs Sharman said the trust and its sponsors were looking forward to the "exciting next chapter" for the festival.

The Gallagher Insurance Challenge Wānaka Festival of Triathlon will take place between February 13-15 2025.

Entries open this Friday, while entries for this year’s Challenge Wānaka Multi event on October 19 are open now.