Welcome to The Wanaka Branch of the
Royal Society of New Zealand.

The Wanaka group was formed in February 2013, becoming the 9th Regional branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand which is based in Wellington. Consistent with the aims of the central organisation, the main objective of the Wanaka Branch is to advance and promote science, technology and humanities in Wanaka and the Wanaka region.

The Branch seeks to achieve this by offering a series of 6 to 10 lectures each year. It aims to bring speakers who are highly regarded in their field of knowledge and expertise, as well as good communicators. Each year a number of eminent national and international speakers, who tour New Zealand under the umbrella of the Royal Society Wellington are included in the programme.

The Wanaka Branch is constituted as an unincorporated society and comprises a membership who appoint an executive committee at an AGM held in May each year. Members receive advance notices of lectures and other communications by email. Lectures are open to the public, and usually held at 6pm on a Friday in the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka.

Becoming a Member

Anyone is welcome to become a member of the Wanaka Branch. For information about types of memberships, subscriptions/fees, how to apply, and Rules of the Society, please click on the link below.

Upcoming Talks


The Life and Times of Supervolcanoes

Friday 27 July 2018, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka.
Professor Professor Colin Wilson, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington.

Royal Society Te Apārangi is aflame with excitement to present the 2018 New Zealand Rutherford Lecture with Professor Colin Wilson FRS FRSNZ from the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington.

Colin was awarded the Rutherford Medal at last year’s New Zealand Research Honours for his research into understanding large, explosive supervolcanoes and the hazards they pose. The Rutherford Medal is the Society’s highest award, instituted at the request of the Government to recognise eminent research or technological practice by a person in any field of science, mathematics, social science, or technology.

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Flexible energy services are key to the transition to a low-carbon, highly-renewable energy system for NZ

Friday 17 August 2018, 6.00pm, Presbyterian Church Hall, 91 Tenby St, Wanaka.
Dr Michael Jack, Director of Energy Management Programme, Physics Department, University of Otago.

Variable generation from renewable sources (e.g. wind and solar) and acute peaks in electricity demand are increasingly challenging for electricity systems, especially when combined with ageing and constrained local networks. These issues are likely to intensify due to increasing uptake of grid-connected technologies (e.g. photovoltaics, electric vehicles) and future electrification of transport and heating. NZ is already facing these difficulties due to its current ~80% renewable generation, accelerating uptake of novel technologies and the government’s goal of 100% renewable generation and carbon neutrality. In this presentation, based on research carried out as part of the GREEN Grid research programme, I will argue that we need to harness innovations in grid-connected technologies, ICT and new business models to link generation, storage and demand. This link can be used to provide ‘flexible’ energy services that shift consumption away from periods of peak demand and respond to variable supply from renewables, thus providing a least-cost pathway to a low-carbon energy system. A number of concrete examples of flexible energy services in the residential sector will be discussed.

Dr Michael Jack is Director of its Energy Management Programme in the Physics Department at the University of Otago. He is a theoretical physicist with a broad range of interests in both fundamental and applied topics. Michael has had experience in a wide variety of research contexts ranging from fundamental physics to commercially-focused energy research. He currently leads the demand side stream of the MBIE-funded GREEN Grid research programme. This work aims to understand current patterns of electricity use in households, how new technologies like smart appliances, smart meters and photovoltaics might influence these patterns, and how flexibility in energy end use might enable greater uptake of variable renewables.



Follow the “Grebes of Wanaka” with committee member John Darby


Saving Our Lakes – What Can We Do?