In 1988 aviation entrepreneur Tim Wallis presented an airshow and country fair that attracted 14,000 visitors to Wanaka Airport.
Delighted with this success, he decided to expand on the theme and hold a biennial event over the long Easter weekend. As the show grew so did its support and now around 50,000 people make the pilgrimage to Wanaka for their weekend of excitement.
Now acclaimed as the largest Warbird Airshow in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the one event not to be missed.
View our photo galleries of Warbird Aircraft: World War I, World War II, Post World War II, Non-Military Aircraft and Jet Racing plus Warhorses and Vintage Machinery.
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2004
Good Friday's crowd was around 20,000 for the practice and Trade Expo day. Saturday saw the airfield packed with an estimated 50,000 people attending, and Sunday's crowd was around 29,000.
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2006
In 2006 there were some important changes to our structure. We concentrated on gathering together aircraft from within New Zealand and did not bring any vintage fighters in from overseas. We finally achieving the presence of an aircraft that has taken us eight years to deliver.
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2008
2008 was the first Airshow under the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust. A superb line up of aircraft, aerobatics and Royal New Zealand and Australian Air Force displays mingled with the stars of the Airshow, the Warbirds, who yet again provided the crowd with hours of excitement.
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2010
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2010 was the second Airshow held under the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust. The star attraction was the A6M3 Japanese Zero, one of only three Zeros flying in the world. Deployed in battle on Guadalcanal it was amongst 353 aircraft launched from aircraft carriers during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2012
We had 50,000 at this Airshow with key aircraft featuring most RNZAF aircraft that had flown at Warbirds Over Wanaka over the decades. Other aircraft were the Hawker Hunter, Grumman Avenger, Beechcraft T-6 Texan II and the Air New Zealand B777 flyover. The glider from NZ Gliding was one of the favourite flying acts. The Martin Jetpack simulator was on ground display.
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2014
With bad weather around the country, Wanaka became an oasis of sun and great flying. Key acts were the Commemoration of WWI over Lake Wanaka on Friday with six WWI aircraft; the #GigatownWanaka Jet racing with six jets, three American pilots vs three Kiwi pilots (Kiwis won!) and the new sport aircraft displays. Aircraft manufacturers from around the globe again displayed their wares and a great weekend was had by 48,239 people.
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2016
With around 50,000 attending the star of the Airshow was the Buchon ME 109 from England in a dogfight with the Supermarine Spitfire. In addition a world-first was the nine-ship Yak 52 formation display. The Friday Lake Event featured amphibian aircraft with the crowd favourite, the Catalina PBY returning once again. Jurgis Kairys and Rob Fry (The Bandits) joined four Air Forces, RNZAF, RAAF, Armee de L'Air and USAF (C-17 flyover) for a Wanaka first. The Wall of Fire produced by the pyrotechnic team was another first.
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2018
Over 54,500 people attended our 30th Anniversary Airshow. Stars of the show were the two F-16s from Japan (USAF) with the C-17 in support; the RAAF Spartan and Hawk 127s; the RNZAF Black Falcons; the CASA from the Armee de L'Air; the Buchon Bf109 from England, the Bremont Spitfire Tribute, the Marsh Harvard Salute, Avro Anson Mk 1, Mustangs, Trojan, Yak 3s, Jurgis Kairys, sport aircraft and more.... The Friday Lake event featured a 'Moose' chase on a jetski by a helicopter, the RNZAF Seasprite, the Catalina and the Yak 52 Team. The Packard car rally brought 50 very special cars to the Airshow, including a 1935 Super Packard 8 Coupe that once belonged to Amelia Earhart. Caravan drops and pyrotechnics rounded out the entertainment.
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2020 and 2022
These Airshows were cancelled due to the Covid-19 virus.
"Wonderful day once again! The planes are exciting to see flying and the pilots skills are fantastic! Well worth the entry fee!" Alan, 2016