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This is going to be the Winter!

This is going to be the Winter!

New Zealand has just won Destination of the Year in China's 2014-2015 "It's my world" online competition, against 3000 other countries.  Not only did New Zealand take the title for "Destination of the Year" it also took; "Most beautiful town" along with multiple awards in the top ten - including the Best Skiing Destination as Queenstown.

Queenstown and the South Island took winning titles in other categories:

#1 - Most Beautiful Town: Queenstown

#1 - Ultimate Experience: Skydiving in Queenstown

Top 5 - Most Beautiful Self-drive Route: South Island

What more can we say? Come and see if the votes are right for yourself, we agree, and with an El Niño forecasted for this winter, New Zealand is proving to be the choice of destination for skiing over Australia for snow conditions.

El nino winter ski season Outside sports NZ

2015 Outlook

The Outlook for this winter forecasted by Mountain watch is a strong El Nino event; “El Niño is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific”. Reference: Wikipedia

For New Zealand an El Nino means that pressure will tend to be higher to the west, and lower to the east, as in the image below:

El nino winter ski season Outside sports NZ

Positive values to the west of NZ denote higher pressures during El Nino winters. Reference: Mountain Watch

What does this mean for us down South?

The pressure pattern shift will produce more cold southerlies therefore producing a regular moderate snow activity this winter. The cooler winds will mean any precipitation will result in snow and less rain, especially good for locations around Queenstown which are exposed to both the south and the southwest.

El nino winter ski season Outside sports NZ

Left hand image shows winter westerly wind anomalies during El Nino. Positive values denote stronger and/or more frequent westerlies. Middle image shows southerly wind anomalies during El Nino. Positive values denote stronger and/or more frequent southerlies. Right hand image shows temperature anomalies during El Nino. Blue means colder. Reference: Mountain Watch

Pick of the year

Overall, New Zealand is looking good for the 2015 Ski Season; “My pick this year, Q’town for the safe money, with a wild card of a big southerly storm......” Reference: New Zealand Seasonal Snow Outlook- The Grasshopper 3rd April 2015.

So this is it, we’ve waited, could this be the winter? Book now and save any disappointment, not that you would be, after all we are the destination of the year!

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Running of the Wools, Hilux New Zealand Rural Games, Queenstown

Running of the Wools

You'd be baaaarmy to miss this. Midday Friday 6th February 2015, witness a forgotten side of Queenstown’s history as more than 300 merino sheep will run through the streets of Queenstown to kick off inaugural Hilux New Zealand Rural Games over the Waitangi holiday weekend. Planned as a dramatic celebration of the region’s farming heritage, this spectacular has not been seen in Queenstown for decades, and is a must see for the holiday weekend. 

Running of the Wools, Hilux games queenstown. Outside Sports

The merino sheep will leave pens in the Athol Street carpark and run over the Ballarat Street bridge by the Village Green. They then turn right onto Camp Street before turning left into Beach Street and running all the way down to finish at the end of Beach Street next to Earnslaw Park, highlighting the merino’s continued importance to New Zealand’s rural economy.

The Hilux New Zealand Rural Games feature several national championships for sports including speed shearing, sheep dog trials, speed fencing, gumboot throwing and coal shovelling as well as four Highland Games ‘heavy’ events and the Trans-Tasman ANZAXE Wood Chopping Championship.

Entertainment on both days is provided by the Topp Twins who also open a live concert on the Saturday evening headlined by local country pop sensation, Jody Direen, featuring James Reid from The Feelers.

Tickets for the two-day Games and Concert are now sale via Ticket Direct.

Support New Zealand Heritage and wear merino, find a great selection of styles and performance from Icebreaker online and instore at Outside Sports Queenstown, Wanaka, Te-Anau and TouchLab.

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Cardrona Valley’s New Bike Park

Cardrona Valley’s New Bike Park

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Yesterday’s winds didn’t deter a bunch of local freeride mountain bikers from checking out the new downhill jump park that has been constructed in the Cardrona Valley.

The nearly-finished bike park, consisting of over 30 jumps, all varying in size, has been built somewhat under the radar over the past few months. Yesterday was the first real “test” day, even though it wasn’t open to the public.

With Queenstown pro riders (Kelly McGarry, Conor Macfarlane and others) in attendance, plus a select few Wanaka locals, the freshly shaped track was well ridden in. The gusty winds meant riders had to hold back a little on the big jumps, or just pick their moments perfectly.

One of the two-man building team, Jamie Thompson, said: “The track is designed to minimise braking and pedaling, which allows riders to flow from one jump to the next with out having to change speed constantly. This means less braking bumps too.”

“Local riders have been waiting for a solid jump line for ages in this area. We’re filling that gap. There’s nothing else like this in Queenstown or Wanaka.” – said Jamie.

Queenstown pro rider Kelly McGarry - cardrona valley bike park

Queenstown pro rider Kelly McGarry finding gap in the wind

Wanaka local rider Rusty getting it done on the wall ride feature at the top

Wanaka local rider Rusty getting it done on the wall ride feature at the top

The jumps varying in size from 5-30 feet and are well-built with flow and safety in mind. Almost all the jumps on the track are roll-able, with options to go bigger and bigger as your confidence increases. Most of the jumps are built as step-ups, so the consequences of coming up short are minimal, and many of them have a hip-like option to jump into the bank on the side. The only two features that require full commitment are the ‘road gaps’, but it is possible to ride around both of these.

The track begins on the Snow Farm / Proving Grounds access road and finishes in the valley bottom. With no signage as yet, it’s hard to spot the entrance and the exit is even more discreet. Those keen to pop up and take a look will get the best view of the track from the 3km mark on the access road. But don’t be tempted to take any sneaky laps just yet, it’s still lambing season and the track has multiple gates across it, all under lock and key.

cardrona valley bike park top section

The top section of the track

cardrona valley bike park bottom section

The bottom section, from afar

The man behind the plan is Scott Jones, who is a relation by marriage to the well-known Lee Family. Scott is aiming to have the park ready and open to the public within the next few weeks and has plans to cater to both groups and individuals.

They plan to offer a pay-per-person shuttle service on weekends and possibly on a Wednesday evening, then a half day hire option for groups. The expected rates will be $300 for self-shuttle or $400 with the shuttle. Portaloos and a BBQ will be available at the bottom of the track.

Watch out for their Facebook page coming real soon!

cardrona valley bike park drop in

All the test riders waiting to drop in

Queenstown Bike Taxis at cardrona valley bike park

The good fellas from Queenstown Bike Taxis helping out with shuttles

riders at ardrona valley bike park

Riders looking pretty happy with the shape of features

cardrona valley bike park

BBQs at the bottom

Check out our bike rentals in Queenstown and Wanaka. Our local expert bike mechanics can also book you on the Queenstown Bike Taxi or provide some advice on local trails in the area.

Reference: 360queenstown-wanaka

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Skyline Queenstown MTB Early Opening

We are excited to share the news that the Queenstown Skyline Mountain Bike track will be opening early. This recent stretch of amazing weather in Queenstown, New Zealand, has allowed them to prepare the tracks ahead of schedule. Skyline NZ will be opening the doors for Mountain Biking on Thursday the 18th of September. 

Please note that between the dates of 18th September to the 24th of September, Skyline Gondola access for all Mountain Bikers will be between the hours of 1pm and 5pm. The afternoon half-day session will also be between these hours.

From the 25th of September, Skyline will resume the AM and PM, 4 hour sessions for the 2014/2015 season. 

Check out the new ThunderGoat trail, Skylines new mountain trail that opened earlier this year

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Mt Alfred in Winter

Walking in the winter wonderland…with Dave Castonguay

The nice spring weather we’ve had in Queenstown in the last few weeks made me swap my snowboard for my hiking boots for a day. Why not keeping our legs warm and keep moving while waiting for it to snow! Only one hour away from town, Mt Alfred is a great workout and rewards you with stunning views at the top.

On the Glenorchy-Routeburn rd, look for an unmarked parking space on your right hand side. The trail starts with an endless zigzag in the forest which offers very limited views on the valley, but don’t give up! Once you finally get over the tree line, you only have to climb a short but steep rocky section to get to the summit. Proceed with care as it’s a bit icy and in some places you have to use your hands. At the top, the view is absolutely awesome: Mt Earnslaw, the Rees Valley, the Dart Valley and Lake Wakatipu… you’ll see it all!




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