There’s something pretty magical about an airshow. It could be that it takes us back to our younger days when we were taken around the various airshows of New Zealand or it could jog memories of running around the back garden with outstretched arms pretending to be a fighter jet. Either way, Warbirds Over Wanaka is without a doubt one the biggest and best airshow in New Zealand and it’s coming around again this month.

Crowds at the Warbirds over Wanaka Airshow
Photo credit: Warbirds over Wanaka

When is Warbirds Over Wanaka

Since its inception in 1988, an event that attracted over 14,000 people, Warbirds Over Wanaka has continued to go from strength to strength. Held every other year over the long Easter weekend, Warbirds Over Wanaka is the largest Warbird Airshow in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting thousands of people to Wanaka Airport.

This year the Airshow will be held on 25, 26, 27 March and is not to be missed.

What can I expect at this year’s show?

As you would imagine, it’s going to be an action packed weekend full of amazing aerial displays and aerobatics that will leave you breathless.  Here’s a little taster of what you can expect each day:

Friday 25 March – Practice Day

That’s right, even these guys need a practice day! This is a good opportunity to see the warbirds, civil and military aircraft warming up for the coming 2 days. There’s also the opportunity to see a special display of amphibious aircraft on the Wanaka Lakefront at 4.30pm. This is a free event to locals and visitors and sounds pretty cool – you’ll get the chance to see these guys flying over the lake before making a splash landing!

Plane ladning on Lake Wanaka at Warbirds over Wanaka
Photo credit: Warbirds over Wanaka

Saturday 26 March and Sunday 27 March

This is when the airshow officially kicks off and you will be treated to displays by all manner of aircraft – some of the highlights include:

  • Skydive helicopter drop
  • Spitfire and Yak 3 Tailchase
  • Classic formation flypast
  • RAAF Hawk 127 – high performance jet fighter trainers from the Royal Australian Airforce
  • Spitfire vs Me 109 Dogfight
  • Avenger Display
  • Mock Attack
Fighter plan at Warbirds over Wanaka
Photo credit: Warbirds over Wanaka

For a full run down of what’s going on, be sure to check out the official Warbirds over Wanaka website.

More than just an airshow

Although the highlight of the weekend is obviously the aerial activity, there is a full ground programme too which is pretty awesome and guaranteed to keep the whole family entertained if you need a break from straining your neck up to the skies!

From the sport aircraft displays that includes replicas and gyrocopters to the warhorses who are re-enacting with displays including vehicles, armaments, tanks, jeeps trucks and more – there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained.

One of the highlights of the ground show could be the opportunity to talk with the guys from NASA about their super pressure balloon which will be launching on 1 April straight after WOW 2016. You will get the chance to see displays, talk to the guys from NASA and purchase merchandise – pretty cool stuff!

Tickets for the show

There are still plenty of tickets left for the airshow but all the Titanium packages have already sold out.  There is still grandstand seating available and plenty of general admission tickets. They are expecting over 50,000 people this year so it is going to be a busy old time down in Wanaka and the atmosphere is going to be amazing.

There are all sorts of ticketing options with some great deals for families whether you want to go for 1 day or for all 3 days. You can find out more information about the ticketing and book your tickets online through the Warbirds Over Wanaka website. Don’t miss out, book your tickets today!

Bonus rides day

If you can stay down until Easter Monday and you have a few pennies saved up then this could be a fantastic opportunity to get a ride in one of the aircraft that has been on display. Entry to Rides Day is free and you can take your pick of operators and give it a go. There is the chance to fly in a warbird, helicopter, microlight, DC3, Spitfire, Kittyhawk and jets. This is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity to get into the skies in one of these magnificent flying machines and hopefully this can inspire the next generation of pilots.

Chance to ride in a warbird at Warbirds over Wanaka

Warbirds over Wanaka is a huge deal. You can expect to see many of the GO Rentals team from our Queenstown branch down at the airshow and it would be great to see lots of our GO Rentals customers there too. Getting there and away is pretty easy if you are flying into Queenstown and we have some great deals on car rental in Queenstown on at the moment so there is no better time to think about a trip to the lower South Island.

If you are looking for ideas of other things to do in the area if you just fancy one day at the airshow, you can check out our itineraries pages with lots of journeys starting off in Queenstown.