After decades of false rumours Wānaka will finally host a McDonald's

by Kim Bowden - Nov 22, 2023

After years of fast-food fake news it seems this time the rumours are true - McDonald's is making moves to open its first restaurant in Wānaka.

The burger giant has submitted a resource consent application to open at a location adjacent to the new Mount Iron roundabout at the junction of State Highways 6 and 84.

Proposed is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week store in the planned Mt Iron Junction subdivision.

Plans submitted to the Queenstown Lakes District Council as part of the application include space for 75 seated diners and parking for 24 cars. By McDonald's own standards it is a medium to large operation.

Interior layout of the planned Wānaka McDonald's.

Concept drawings suggest the new restaurant will dominate the new roundabout even though some  show the building heavily "softened" by trees and other landscaping.

Welcome to Wānaka: the new restaurant will be a major feature at the new Mount Iron roundabout entrance to Wānaka

The application by McDonald's Restaurants New Zealand is now subject to resource consent approval by the council. 

As recently as November 12, just three days before the resource consent application was filed with QLDC, McDonald's spokesperson Simon Kenny told local media there had been “no change in our position from previous inquiries".

"We’re always assessing potential sites around the country, but there’s nothing to confirm at this stage,” he said.

Wanaka has a history of trying to stop fast-food franchises, especially the iconic McDonald's, setting up in town.

Part of the Wānaka 2020 document, which was developed by the community in 2002, includes a section about not allowing international fast-food franchises to set up in town.

In 2016 a group calling itself Ban International Fast Food Franchises from Wānaka started a petition asking for international fast-food franchises to be banned from the town.

Even McDonald's themselves told local media in 2017 that "Wanaka was acknowledged as a town sensitive to the arrival of a McDonald's restaurant."

A profile elevation image of the new Wānaka McDonald's.

This evening (November 22) Mr Kenny issued the following statement to Crux on behalf of McDonald's:

“As part of our ongoing new restaurant development plan, we’re always assessing potential sites. While there have been rumours about McDonald’s coming to Wānaka for some time, we’ve not previously had a site that we thought would meet our criteria, and would be appropriate for the town as it grows and new businesses open.

"Working with a local developer we now have a site we think is suitable, and we’re commencing the formal council consent process. We’re committed to working through that process as required.”



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