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January 2012


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Competing in Paradise: Challenge Wanaka 2012

10 Jan 2012

Challenge Wanaka 2012
Saturday, 21 January 2012

Challenge Wanaka - profiled as ‘the world’s most scenic iron distance triathlon’ - plays out across a stunning New Zealand South Island alpine landscape.

The ultimate race in New Zealand’s biggest triathlon festival - a week-long series of sport events on the shores of Lake Wanaka (15 - 21 January 2012) - Challenge Wanaka is acclaimed as among the most memorable courses on the international circuit.

The spectacular setting and festival, featuring events for all ages and abilities, each year attracts a huge influx of international and national competitors and supporters to the lakeside resort town in the heart of the Southern Lakes region - chosen by Lonely Planet as one of the world's top 10 regions to visit in 2012.

Lake Wanaka is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park and the world heritage area of Te Wahipounamu. This region of soaring mountains and deep alpine lakes is one of New Zealand’s most dramatic landscapes, and a popular year-round holiday destination.

Scenic course
The Challenge Wanaka course includes a 3.8km swim through the pristine waters of Lake Wanaka, a 180km bike ride past three alpine lakes, and a 42.2km run that’s mostly off-road and follows the water’s edge - an irresistible combination for athletes who want to compete and holiday in paradise.

But, scenery aside, the 1500-plus top professional and age group athletes signed up for the 2012 event (21.01.2012) will also be competing in one of the world’s toughest iron distance triathlon courses - just one segment of the Challenge Family series of 13 races on three continents.

The 2012 competition will see the largest pro field in the six-year history of the event and, while the physical and mental challenges will push them to their limits, competitors can also expect an enthusiastic and warm welcome from locals.

And, it all finishes at the line with a party that includes music and evening fireworks.

Festival fun
Wanaka comes alive during the festival week with a series of fun and serious sport events that build up to the main event.

On Sunday (15.01.2012), the Puzzling World Junior Challenge - designed for any experience level - puts budding tri-athletes (6 - 15 years) to the test.

Monday’s Radio Wanaka 5km Fun Run (16.01.2012) offers something for all-comers, and swimmers can test their abilities on Wednesday’s Swim the Course (18.01.2012).

Contact Tri Series
Serious competition takes over on Friday (20.01.2012) as the Contact Tri Series turns the streets of downtown Wanaka into a high speed race circuit for New Zealand’s top national and Olympian tri-athletes. The thrilling criterium style racing is a hit with spectators and provides exciting conditions for the athletes.

Along with Challenge Wanaka, Saturday’s programme includes the Lake Wanaka Half - the same spectacular course as Challenge Wanaka but half the distance.

Background: Lake Wanaka

Wanaka’s natural environment is a haven for rare birds and plants, including endangered buff weka on Mou Waho island - a nature reserve in the middle of Lake Wanaka.

Outdoor adventures include canyoning, rock climbing, skydiving, fishing, and skiing and snowboarding on the four alpine resorts that are easily accessed from town.

Wanaka also offers luxury accommodation, dining and recreation options such as private helicopter tours, vintage plane rides and back-country 4WD touring.

Challenge Wanaka is the flagship event of New Zealand’s largest annual triathlon competition, the Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival which runs from 15 - 21 January 2012 with over 2,000 athletes of all ages and abilities taking part in a series of events.

More information

Lake Wanaka region

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Related Links
Other Sites
•  Ski Lake Wanaka website
•  Lake Wanaka website
•  Warbirds over Wanaka website
•  Challenge Wanaka website


Lonely Planet's 2012 Top Regions - Southern Lakes, NZ - click for more.
Lake Wanaka, in NZ's Southern Lakes region, is in Lonely Planet's 2012 top regions

Lake Wanaka walking tracks - click for more.
A hiker takes in views over Lake Wanaka


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