Wānaka Lakefront Development Wins International Award

Wanaka Lakefront 1 Reset Urban 2023

The small township of Wānaka is to get a major boost to its globally renowned reputation with its new lakefront development winning an International Federation of Landscape Architects Award of Excellence.

The honour was presented in absentia to the project’s New Zealand-based landscape architects Reset at a Gala Awards Ceremony in Tokyo, Japan late last week. 

Reset was the only New Zealand practice to win an award at the international event that celebrates the best work in the Asia and Pacific region.

The Wānaka Lakefront Development, which was praised by judges for the quality of its design, was commissioned by Queenstown Lakes District Council and created in three stages over an eight-year period.

Reset Director Garth Falconer says sustained engagement and input from the local community was key to the project’s success, along with a resourceful approach to a working with a modest budget.  

“Wānaka’s people and its Council understand the value of their environment. They wanted the lake edge back as a place for people, , including a continuous pedestrian and cycling access along the lakefront and a broad park that offered strong connections with the town centre.

“This prestigious international award celebrates the significance of this design-led re-purposing of the 1.7 km long landscape for the Wānaka community, sensitively engaging with and enhancing the environment whilst creating a restrained yet bold design that resonates with the alpine landscape.”

Mr Falconer says one of the features of the development includes a 200m long boardwalk to protect and celebrate the Pūteketeke Australasian Crested Grebe that nests on the Wānaka lakefront.

“For some years we have worked to support the wonderful local initiative led by Dr John Darby to regenerate the numbers of this precious native bird, which has now been crowned ‘Bird of the Century’.”

The new development means carparks are now set back from the lake edge, enabling the creation of an extensive lawn and a wide shared path sweeps along the bay that provides an elegant promenade for walkers and cyclists. Runoff is filtered before entering the lake, cultural artworks feature along with interpretive signage and indigenous plants stabilise embankments, making a complete design package.

Queenstown Lakes Deputy Mayor and Wanaka-Upper Clutha Ward Councillor Quentin Smith says the Council and the community board are proud of what’s been achieved so far.

“It’s fantastic to see the vision for Wānaka’s foreshore coming to life and people enjoying better access, biodiversity and amenities. In particular, the biodiversity improvements of Stage 3 with native planting and integration with the conservation programme for the pūteketeke Australasian crested grebe, through to people sunning themselves on the great lawn of Stage 2 are evidence of the objectives being achieved.

“It’s great to see everyone involved acknowledged by this award and we look forward to stages 4 and 5 in the future that will complete the project,” says Mr Smith.

Mr Falconer adds the project was the work of a multi-disciplinary team.

“Our thanks to RCP project managers; Rhodes quantity surveyors; BMC and WSP engineering firms; the contractors - TRC, Blakelys and JFC; Council officers; Aukaha mana whenua consultancy; and the local community board for all their support.

“Together, we are honoured to have made progress in realising the community’s vision of restoring and enhancing the unique lakefront of this much-visited destination.”

Plans to further extend the lakefront development are in discussion.

To read the Landscape Architecture NZ article, click here.

To read more about the development, click here.


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At Reset Urban Design, we offer a broad scope of services within the specialist areas of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. We also actively engage in research and have contributed two published books on the history of design in New Zealand.