Organisers stoked with success of 'crazy' festival debut

Apr 05, 2024

Apart from the odd pilot overshooting the inflatable water landing and taking an unplanned dip into the autumnal waters of Lake Wānaka, the debut of New Zealand’s newest festival, 'Magic Land - Adventure Sports Festival', was an undeniable success, organisers say.

Incidentally, those that missed the pontoon were the crowd's most cheered participants.

Organisers Vicki Zadrozny and Dan Pugsley say they were left overwhelmed and feeling the love, not only from the Central Otago sunshine and perfect flying conditions that blessed the week of festivities, but from all the people who attended and supported the event, which was born as a crazy idea between the couple after returning from Europe, where they attended similar style festivals.

From action in the sky to action on the dance floor at the inaugural Magic Land - Adventure Sports Festival hosted at Glendhu Bay.

Well known in Wānaka's paragliding scene, but having never run events before, the couple brought to fruition the festival through their dogged determination, hard work and unwavering belief in their vision.

They credit the encouragement and support from Alan Swann, an organiser of many flying events, including the United Kingdom's inspiration for MagicLand, The Buttermere Bash, as well as an endless list of people that also believed in the concept, as bringing the Wānaka vision to life. 

"Without Swanny’s efforts and advice on general flying safety, the festival would not have been the incident-free success it was."

Throughout the week some of New Zealand’s best talent in various sky-based adventure sports converged on Glendhu Bay.

Paragliders, speed flyers and paramotors with their very own 'Candy Man', releasing parachutes of lollies from the sky for the kids to catch, as well as BASE, wingsuit and tracking suit exits in the 'Skytek Expression Session' were definite favourites of festival goers, soaking up the sun on the shores of Lake Wānaka.

The Acrofest Finals, New Zealand’s national aerobatic paragliding competition, also took place in front the crowd gathered at the beach, with full - and funny - commentary provided over the speakers to connect those on the the ground to the the pilots performing the final run for first place.

Brooke Watnall took the top spot overall, while Marika Pechackova secured first place amongst the female competitors.

Live bands, local musicians and DJs all performed throughout the event.

At its closing, Ms Zadrozny told those gathered, "We have kick-started something so unique and special for our sports and communities here in the South Island, and that’s down to everyone that turned up, showed their support and believed in the vision”.

She says it was a "community of flying legends that made the festival the success it was". 

Organisers say they are now looking ahead to next year.

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