Triathlon event returning home

Four years after moving out to Glendhu Bay, Challenge Wānaka is coming home.

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

Event director Jane Sharman said 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."

A survey sent out to stakeholders last year had delivered a "very clear indication" people wanted the event to return to Wānaka, she said.

The move would result in every event from the three-day festival, including the Challenge Wānaka Half and the various youth events, shifting its hub to Pembroke Park, she said.

Swimming events would also begin on the Wānaka lakefront.

The trust was working closely with the Queenstown Lakes District Council to ensure it 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."

Next year’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 its connection to the event, Southern Lakes manager Sandy MacLeod said.

The festival has undergone several changes 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 as they prepared to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2026

The Challenge Wānaka Festival of Triathlon will take place next year from February 13 to 15.

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