More than a hundred of the country's best sled dogs have been
wagging their way through a series of races at the Snow Farm
on the Pisa Range near Cardrona over the past few days.
With warm temperatures prevailing, races have been run at
dawn or just on dusk to avoid the dogs being affected by heat
Siberian huskies in particular prefer very cold temperatures.
That is one of the reasons why Julian Johnston, of North
Canterbury, decided to change breeds.
He has a team of six German pointers which he finds more
suitable for New Zealand where much racing is done in mild
winter temperatures on gravel roads.
The Snow Farm at Cardrona is the only venue available in New
Zealand for racing on snow and the Wanaka Dog Sled Festival
is the high point for sled dog owners nearing the end of
Some travelled from Australia to take part - borrowing dogs
from New Zealand owners.
Jess Winther and brother Josh have been sled-dogging in
Australia since they were old enough to walk.
They won their trip to Cardrona to race a team of New Zealand
dogs - a mix of Siberian husky, pointer, Dalmatian and German
And Merv Turner, from Melbourne, left his team of six
malamutes at home and borrowed a New Zealand team of Alaskan
Australia has two races on snow each year attracting more
than 70 teams.
Twenty-eight teams have been competing at this year's Snow
Farm series of races - ranging from one dog pulling a
cross-country skier to teams of six dogs pulling a sled on an
Trail boss Tony Turner, of Queenstown, runs a team of Alaskan
huskies and says the breed is considered the fastest land
animal after 16km.
Mr Turner says Alaskan huskies have completed 1600km events
on snow in eight and a-half days.
Asked if the dogs enjoy racing, Mr Turner said: ''Absolutely
''This is a breed of dog that just loves to run.''
Jake Faulkner, of Christchurch, was in control of two of his
family's ''Black Paw'' team of Siberian huskies in one class
The full team of six dogs includes five rescued from poor
Jake's father, Justin Faulkner, said two dogs had spent their
early years living in a dog motel for 23 hours every day.
Another had been ''badly abused and beaten''.
The family is part of a Christchurch group called ''Husky
Rescue'' which deals with problems arising from ''people who
think huskies are cute and fluffy and then realise there's
more to them than that''.
''They realise they just can't handle the dogs.
''They are not a status symbol.
''They are a working dog.''
Mr Faulkner said there was satisfaction in training the dogs
to pull sleds.
''You know it's come from such a bad home and then you see
them doing what they were born to do, and absolutely loving