Wendy Banks: parkrun baker (+recipe)

Forget trying to make a work of art, the key to a great milestone cake is one that can be eaten by all.

The Great Kiwi Bake-Off contestant Wendy Banks (A5223856) has been wowing TVNZ viewers with her baking prowess, including her signature chocolate brownie and showstopper Remarkables cake.

But the Queenstown parkrunner is best known in her community for the cakes she’s made for milestone events.

Her first was a cake for Queenstown’s 100th event.

“I made the cakes as numbers. One of the numbers was vegan, one was gluten-free and the other was a regular chocolate cake. 

Celebrating Queenstown’s 100 parkruns

“That way everyone was included and could have a piece as a lot of the time there’s someone who can’t eat it.

“It’s also important to make something easy to cut, I did two layers. Years ago I used to do a lot of fondant work but I’ve moved away from that. It’s so labour intensive.

“There’s no point doing anything healthy because people want cake. You shouldn’t be feeling that you can’t eat it.”

Great Kiwi Bake-Off

Wendy was one of 10 Kiwi home bakers to feature on the show, each week being challenged to produce three items. 

One was a “signature” based on set criteria, the second was a technical round – each baker had to make the same item and it was judged blind. 

The third was a “showstopper”, where bakers pulled out all the stops to wow the judges.

Wendy won star baker in week three in the Aotearoa round when she created a cake representing the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.

The Remarkables

“That cake would have taken me 10 hours over a few days but you have to smash it out in four hours.

“One of the good things that came out of the experience was I did a lot of things I wouldn’t have normally done. Cakes are my strength but for this show you definitely have to be an all rounder.

“After filming finished I did lots of baking and people have noticed my baking is at another level.”

Baking background

“I didn’t bake much when I was younger. It was only when we came here and it was for the kids. I got a Kitchen Aid as a wedding present, not because I baked but because it looked nice!

“Baking was something I could do with the kids.”

At Queenstown parkrun

Wendy and her husband Iain moved to New Zealand in 2003 from Perth, Scotland. They have three sons, Brodie, Coen and Hudson.

They started going to parkrun on Christmas Day 2018. 

‘I didn’t know much about it. In the UK Christmas is a big family thing and I thought we could all go down for a run and start our own Christmas tradition.

“I just loved it. Christmas at parkrun is quite special. People dress up, it has a nice feel.

“Queenstown parkrun is quite small with its number of runners. A lot of people talk to me about it and then say they have to practice before they come along but I say just come, walk if you have to. 

“The fitter women ask me for my time, some people might be competitive but the competition is just with yourself.”


When parkrun went on pause back in 2020 Wendy started running 5km every day. She’s kept on going – running small laps while filming. She ran her 500th 5km at Hobsonville Point parkrun.

“I got my fastest ever parkrun time when I was there, probably from the change of scenery!”

As well as being a keen runner, Wendy is also a run director at Queenstown. Her family all volunteer, with Brodie volunteering as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“I got into run directing when it ended up being just Chris and Jamie (Seymour, the event directors).

“Every weekend they were at parkrun. They asked for volunteers and I put my hand up so they could go away on weekends. I also wanted to be a good example to my boys.

“It’s a great way to be part of the community.”

Mini Christmas Puddings (makes 6)


100g fruit mix (currants, raisins, mixed peel etc)
5 x plain biscuits (any kind I used nice)
60g melted dark chocolate
20g melted white chocolate
4 glace green cherries cut lengthwise to resemble leaves
4 glace red cherries cut into small pieces

  1. Crush biscuits in food processor or in a sealed bag and roll them over with a rolling pin until finely crushed.
  2. Melt dark chocolate in a pot over low heat.
  3. Place biscuits into the chocolate and add the fruit mix. Mix together until combined.
  4. Shape mixture into 6 little balls.
  5. Melt white chocolate in a pot over low heat. Using a teaspoon drizzle over the balls.
  6. Place the cherries on top of the white chocolate to resemble mini Christmas puddings

Follow Wendy on instagram at Three Bears Cakery.

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