Resort's fly-in cycling reputation

Queenstown's reputation as a destination for cyclists who will fly into the resort, ride for five days, then fly out continues to grow, an organiser of the upcoming 10-day Queenstown Bike Festival says.

Geoff Hunt, of Southern Traverse, which is contracted to operate and mange the festival, said the number of people using Queenstown's cycle trails must exceed anywhere else in New Zealand.

''People are flying here just to go riding just as people arrive to go skiing,'' Mr Hunt said.

''You see them arriving here just for five days' riding then go home again, and even last year that didn't happen as much.''

The festival, which begins next weekend, is in its fourth year.

Mr Hunt remembered a time when there was surprise about the notion to produce a bike festival but that was quickly dispelled after it became a success.

''There is demand for it.''

He said the Government's focus on providing national cycle trails was ''a nice little platform to build on''.

This year's bike festival has just one new event, the women's Diamonds in the Rough.

It was a conscious effort not too add more events so organisers could focus on delivering all events to a high standard.

Each event now has its own manager, most of whom are from the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club, who ''are an integral part of the festival''.

Back again for a second year is the Mega Avalanche ''the first event of its type in the southern hemisphere''.

Mr Hunt said the avalanche provided the ''most exciting'' starting line, high on the main ridge line of the Remarkables, with riders gearing up for a mass start.

A description from the festival's programme says ''mass start and chaos assured'' as riders descend 1650m through wild country tracks, rocky drops and tussock-covered slopes.

Some riders are flown up by helicopter, others walk.

However, the festival is not just for riders willing to throw themselves down the resort's most recognisable mountain line.

Other events Mr Hunt points to are the kids' minicross which last year had small children on equally small wooden bikes, and the Tour de Wakatipu.

''There's lots of super athletic events but the Tour de Wakatipu is designed for your average run-of-the-mill mountain biker who perhaps even finds the Motatapu a bit intimidating.''

The festival runs from Saturday, April 12 to Sunday, April 20.

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