Downforce instructor Tim Martin slides an Audi RS4 expertly
around a corner at the Ice Drive at Snow Park
familiarisation session this week. Photo by Geoff Marks
The Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground (SHPG) was full to
capacity last week, yet the team there could still find room to
slip in a quick ice-driving session.
Sixteen car companies were industriously testing their
vehicles at the SHPG facilities, when the Otago Daily Times
joined a group of 20 for a familiarisation experience with
Ice Drive at Snow Park.
Each company was assigned its own workshop and office
facilities on the Pisa Range - secluded from any public
On the former Snow Park slopes a United States junior ski
team had exclusively hired out a ski lane and was clinically
clocking up the race kilometres.
The clients all contributed to the more than 5000 bed nights
SHPG was responsible for in Queenstown and Wanaka each year,
Ice Drive at Snow Park, manager Steve Gould said.
Meanwhile, out on the former 350m by 60m Snow Park car park,
our group was treated to several hours of instructor-led
sliding of the resident Audis on snow.
After the oversteer, understeer, figure-eight and time-trial
tracks were cleared away by the grooming team, a car company
was booked to take over the space that evening.
The ability to ''stay flexible'' was vital to the
sustainability of the Ice Drive at Snow Park, Mr Gould said.
''It needs to fit in around the testing. This year is a good
year for testing and we are booked up pretty much right
through. Ten or 12 days is the only time we have available.
Next year we will book out a week at a time.''
While Ice Drive at Snow Park is a subsidiary company of SHPG
and has begun this year as a mostly corporate group-focused
activity, it has the opportunity to snowball.
''The great advantage of this is if it needs to become
dedicated, it will. That's the direction it's taking,'' Mr
Lake Wanaka Tourism general manager James Helmore welcomed
the Ice Drive at Snow Park as a ''valuable addition'' to the
region's portfolio of on-snow winter activities.
''The ice-driving experience will not only help raise the
profile of Lake Wanaka as a conference destination, but more
importantly help bring additional business opportunities to
the region's operators that work in the conference and
incentive market, such as, accommodation providers, function
venues, activity operators and restaurants,'' he said.