The Wanaka Rodeo Club

History and home

The Wanaka Rodeo Club was formed in 1963 and has run its annual rodeo, held on Jaunary 2nd, 43 times since then. Originally the rodeo was sited at the Wanaka Showgrounds but relocated to Peter Gordon’s property, together with the Pony Club on Golf Course Road, Wanaka, where it was held for many years before moving to a purpose built, permanent site on Council Reserve land near Albert Town in 2011, where two years later, in 2013, the Club celebrated its 50th Annual Wanaka Rodeo.

Today, the Club’s rodeo grounds continue to be improved with new landscaping, a refurbished toilet block and a permanent bar. The Club’s aim is to be the best rodeo ground in New Zealand, with permanently established yards and arena, and a viewing amphitheatre capable of comfortably catering for crowds of up to 6000 spectators, as well as corporate tents, sideshows and food stalls.

Hosting a Rodeo

Running the rodeo on the day is the culmination of significant planning and organising by the small band of dedicated club members. Monthly meetings are held year round to ensure that the Club is well prepared for running the event. In the eight weeks prior to the rodeo additional meetings are held as sponsorship is confirmed and the key planning details come together.

Like many voluntary events these days, the Wanaka Rodeo Club is dependent on sponsors to produce the annual rodeo. The cost to organise and run the event, as well as provide prize-money worthy of attracting quality competitors, would be beyond the Club’s ability to fund-raise. The relationship between the Club, its sponsors and many local supporters is worked on throughout the year by the Club’s committee.

In addition to confirming the funding, considerable time is spent managing the manpower required to run the actual rodeo events on the day, as well as ensuring the necessary amenities and facilities (catering, sideshows, parking, etc) are all in place. Some 30 plus members and loyal supporters of the Club all work exceptionally hard to host what is now recognised as the best rodeo in the country and one of the most popular with rodeo competitors.
Rodeo Circuit.

The Wanaka Rodeo is part of the South Island Christmas Circuit, comprising five rodeos, while there is a similar circuit run in the North Island over the same period. Wanaka offers very valuable championship points that the competitors keenly seek as they chase the various national titles.

Community Support

The Club has been a significant contributor to many community groups over the years. Profit is not the motivating force behind the Club with the most important factor being to cover the costs of running the rodeo – a risky business when the weather can have a major influence on both the crowd numbers and the safety of the competitors.
Where surplus funds are available the Club donates these to worthy groups. Since 1998 these have included:

$5000 Wanaka Community Ambulance
$6000 Tarras, Wanaka and Cromwell Primary Schools
$5147 Child Cancer Fund
$1500 Wanaka Rescue Tender
$5600 St John Ambulance
$3000 Junior Sponsorship (Rodeo)

In addition, Rodeo day itself presents fundraising opportunities for various community groups, as they volunteer to man the entry gates, food stalls, parking and clean up the grounds after the event, in exchange for funds for their interests. St John’s members, with assistance of cowboys and cowgirls, also circulate through the crowd during the event with an ambulance blanket to collect donations to assist their cause.

Future Outlook

The Wanaka Rodeo Club is proud to promote the sport of rodeo in New Zealand and is very appreciative of the support it receives from the community of Wanaka and surrounds. For more than 50 years, the Club has provided a top class event that is firmly part of the Wanaka New Year’s experience to many thousands of visitors and locals. It plans to still be in existence to celebrate its 100th anniversary with the next generation of visitors and supporters.