Competitors race away at the start of the Golden Mile at
the Queenstown Winter Festival on Saturday. Photo by Craig
Thrills, spills, mid-winter swims, splashes, dashes,
sprints, hilarity and organised chaos have been par for the
course over the past two days, during the Queenstown Winter
Perfect weather conditions, with relatively mild
temperatures, ensured thousands of people took in the
festival action over the weekend, beginning on Saturday at
Coronet Peak when mountain bike riders took to the snow.
After a mass start from the top of the Meadows Chairlift,
chaos ensued as bikers raced down the mountain. Queenstown's
Harriet Latchem took top honours in the women's category,
Qunitin McCrostie won the men's title and Matt Lawton the
Meanwhile, in the CBD, some of the resort's fittest - and
best dressed - athletes did two hot laps around the business
area in the Golden Mile race.
One of the youngest entrants hit the deck in the mass start
and lost a shoe, but was picked up by some of his fellow
competitors and encouraged to continue, cheered on by the
Jordan de Spong won the men's section in a blistering 4min
41sec and Gemma Morgans won the women's category in 5min
It was followed by the annual street parade, this year
attracting 36 community and corporate floats. The '70s theme
was evident in the majority of entries.
Queenstown Primary School won the community award and Real
Journeys took top honours in the business category.
In other festival action on Saturday, the Maniototo rugby
team beat the Wakatipu Wanderers 88-3 at the Queenstown Rec
Ground, while the Southern Stampede ice hockey team beat the
Dunedin Thunder 4-3, captain Bert Haines scoring the winning
goal in overtime.
Another fine day greeted participants and onlookers at the
popular Day on the Bay yesterday, beginning with jet sprints
and ending with fast and physical laps of a course on
Queenstown Bay during the Undy 500.
Six entries were received for the 2014 Birdman competition,
including Clutha-Southland National candidate Todd Barclay,
who launched his election campaign by leaping from a jetty on
Queenstown Bay into Lake Wakatipu, but it was Niam
Chronican's Shotover Jet entry, a crowd favourite, which was
crowned the overall winner.
Back at Queenstown Bay the hardiest of souls stripped to
their bare essentials to partake in the Splash and Dash and
Competitors complete an obstacle course, requiring them to
hurdle hay bales and dive under barriers racing to the finish
line, however, Splash and Dash entrants first had to swim out
into Lake Wakatipu and around a buoy before, with chattering
teeth and unco-operative limbs, they raced to the end.
For Queenstown's Daz Schwalger history repeated itself in the
Undy 500, as he ''face planted'' about 2m from the finish
line after coming from behind in the final.
Mr Schwalger got off to a flying start in his heat and looked
to have victory sewn up, before his lightning pace caused him
to get the speed wobbles and he fell on the gravel and was
With two bloodied knees, Mr Schwalger lined up for the final,
intending to ''sit back in the pocket'' and put his foot down
on the home straight.
Unfortunately, he had not learned his lesson and again hit
the gravel, resulting in a disappointing finish and a visit
to the St John crew for attention.
Festival director Lisa Buckingham was ''very happy'' with the
opening weekend of the 40th annual festival.
''It's fantastic to see so many happy people out there
enjoying it,'' she said.
Noon: '70s Disco Workout, Earnslaw Park
7.30pm: Queenstown 2040: Where Will The Snow Be?,
Queenstown Memorial Centre
Noon: Queenstown Winter WOD, Earnslaw Park
7pm: Comedy Night, Queenstown Memorial Centre.