Wanaka – Notes on Sauntering around the South Island Startup Ecosystem


The directions to Wanaka from Franz Josef are simple, for 285kms stay straight on. The terrain complex, and imposing. Steaming clouds covering ice capped alps, lush and densely packed bush. Crazy long, single lane bridges over sprawling gravel beds and deceptively narrow trickles of white waters.

With Beethoven’s 5th cranked up into distortion levels of loud, barreling around a bend and seeing the mighty Lake Wanaka come into view is certainly something.

Arriving late on a Saturday, the generous Tim Haller was putting up with me for the night. Another helicopter pilot laid low by the sudden halt in international tourism. He had a few entrepreneurial ideas of his own including a “Jenga Bed” and an idea for orienting pilots in “snow blind” conditions.

He was playfully offering to deliver the first ten beds via helicopter to their new owners.

Speaking of blind, Sunday was a bit of a writeoff thanks to Mr Haller.

I regret that now because I missed out on tracking down quite a few places including; the Wanaka Community Hub, The Cell Co-working Space, The Marketing Lab, and one Richard Liew founder of NZ Entrepreneur (an online magazine for New Zealand startups and small businesses).

Ignite Wanaka, the Wanaka Chamber of Commerce are also strongly involved in the local startup community.

All good reasons for a return trip to Wanaka.

Wanaka Community Hub

The Cell Coworking Space

The Marketing Lab

NZ Entrepreneur

Ignite Wanaka, Wanaka Chamber of Commerce

Next up… Queenstown.