Innovative Businesses in Wanaka

Date: 12th July 2013


We all know that there are many lifestyle benefits of living in Wanaka… the mountains, the lake, the many outdoor pursuits, the festivals, the cafes and restaurants, the small town feeling with a touch of metropolitan.  On the other hand, many having moved from the city, especially those coming from a corporate background, may struggle to find a way to make a good living.  Well, here is some inspiration.

There are a bunch of innovative people in this town who made the decision not to rely on a regular paycheck and put their many and varied skills to good use by creating their own brand.  They have set their sights on the national or international market using Wanaka as both their testing ground and home-base.

Mons Royale – if you like to peruse the Wanaka high street, or the high street of Laax Switzerland for that matter, chances are you have come across this stylish merino brand.  Chances are that you may not know that Mons Royal is a Wanaka-born brand conceived by a 30 something year old ex-freeskier, Hamish Acland.  Starting with a small local and then European shipment in 2009, Mons Royale now distribute their cutting edge designs across Australasia, Europe, Asia and North America.

Genie Wallet – this ingenious little rewards card conceived by Hamish Ludbrook, combines all of those numerous rewards/coffee cards that you have stashed in your wallet into one card.  Testing the product in Wanaka late last year, they have now expanded into the national market and are growing every day.

Global Cutter  growing up far from the snow in the Far North, the inventor of this Olympic-accredited half-pipe shaping machine, John Melville’s entry into the world of engineering was a sandpit and Lego.  His love of snow-based machinery was honed by his time shaping the free style features at Cardrona Alpine Resort where he first figured out a design for a better Olympic half-pipe shaper named the Gobal Cutter.  He first tested his product with a prototype at Cardrona and then a second model was made for SnowPark.  He has now shipped the cutting edge design piece to resorts in North America and Europe and he has won the contract to shape the pipe at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

Oxbow – where in the world can you go jet boat sprinting, knife throwing, skeet shooting, ATV driving and helicopter flying in one day?  Right here in Wanaka as it turns out, at Oxbow Adventures.  Last winter the world’s best snowboarders tested the facility during the international snowboard competition, the Burton High Fives, and the response was overwhelming excitement.  Yet another example of an innovative, world-class tourist attraction in our backyard.

Wanaka Living – Ben Wilson, Founder and CEO of luxury home wares company Wanaka Living can tell you the exact moment his brand was born. In Japan on a trip marketing traditional sheepskin products – “lovely fluffy things” – he saw his wares laid out directly alongside a synthetic product and struggled to spot any difference. “We’d over processed and over engineered this natural product to such an extent that it looked perfect – and effectively synthetic.” …. While sold here, [products have] been designed with European and North American markets in mind. Hence the branding around Wanaka where the company is based. “We get to enjoy this beautiful place every day, and the idea is that through this range, people offshore can bring a bit of Wanaka into their homes.”

Yes, living in Wanaka, we really don’t know how lucky we are.

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