Photo Epic: A Week in Queenstown

Feb 14, 2013
by Sean Lee  
 
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It's become an annual summer holiday ritual for me as both a photographer and rider, simply because there's nothing like it anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere. Both the riding and scenery are world-class, and combined with the relaxed atmosphere of the town and locals, it's like a little slice of heaven. At the start of January this year I flew there again, to escape the constant 40C heat of a flat, dry Perth.

flying over NZ
Instagram collage. http instagram.com chamakazi
Instagram collage. http instagram.com chamakazi
  The first couple of days after my arrival were a little wet and dismal, so exploring the town and chilling with mates seemed to be the best option. Eventually, the rain cleared up, just in time for the second round of the QTMBC Queenstown Downhill Series at the Remarkables downhill track.

Big mountains are a vast change in scenery for West Australian pinner Deon Baker. Third place on the day in the second race of the Queenstown DH series.
Assorted racers
sending the hip
  Amazing terrain and views, combined with a fast, fun track, made the race a truly memorable experience. QTMBC did a great job of organising the event, with the entry fee of only $20 including shuttles.

crash sequence
crash sequence
crash sequence
having a rest mid-run
crash sequence
  Allan Birkett didn't have the best race run, looping out on a jump and performing a barrel roll on the fastest section of the track. It's a miracle he managed to walk away with only some whiplash and grazes. And a broken D3.

  In the end, British enduro weapon James Shirley took the win from Isaac Luoni and Deon Baker, with the top 3 times being within 0.4 seconds. Kepler Rek (above) took out the whip/style/huck contest after he had a small crash at the start of his run.

Instagram collage. http instagram.com chamakazi
  I eventually got to do some riding myself, exploring the vast amount of trails around town. The legendary Gorge Road dirt jumps were in pristine condition as usual.

shredding Original
slaying berms
  Full-time Aussie and part-time Queenstown local, Kepler Rek, shreds some berms in the Skyline bike park. We also rode and shot with other Australian pinners, Deon Baker, Rowan Saunders, and Josh Johnston.

Instagram collage. http instagram.com chamakazi
down the chute
styling the Grundy hip
styling the Grundy hip
styling the Grundy hip. check out the crazy run-in
  After shredding steep and gnarly downhill for an afternoon, we decided to head over to the Wynyard Freeride Park.

  Maintained by QTMBC, Wynyard is home to the legendary Dream Track, a set of big jumps that've previously been featured in NWD5. The riders warmed up on the Mini Dream track before scoping out and launching the big set.

 these jumps this forest the lake... it just shouldn t all be here in one place... what the f*ck -Deon Baker
scope it send it
hangin whips
  Hanging whips!

Livin the dream
  Rowan sending the final step-down on the last run of the day. Everyone went home stoked, and many beers were consumed.

scoping out lines
  We decided to shoot some of the world cup track in the bike park. This section of track, Hobbit, is probably the gnarliest part of the hill. Kep had a massive crash before the shoot so he took a back seat and decided to simply roll the rest of the track.

Shredding Hobbit
scoping out lines... just to clarify he isn t actually taking a piss
Dropping into a vertigo-inducing gorge
Deon shredding Hobbit
crazy rocks
  I spent my last day in Queenstown shooting with a well-known local, Andy Weeding. To put it simply, this guy's skill on a bike is insane.

Slaying Vertigo berms
  It'd been suggested that I should shoot Andy riding on a hidden track, known only to a few select locals. Himself and a group of local elite riders built the track with the goal of making the steepest, gnarliest, and most natural track on the hill. Needless to say, they succeeded.

Dropping into the chute. It only got steeper from here.
  The word "steep" doesn't even begin to describe some parts of this track. Pushing up for some run-ins took upwards of 10 minutes.

steep and gnarly
Jedi quarter. The run-in on the left is a three metre vertical drop in off muddy tree roots. Gnarly shit.
Styling the Jedi quarter
  The legendary Jedi quarterpipe. I'd been told stories of this feature, a vertical entrance through a tunnel of trees before launching vertically into a natural clearing in the forest. Andy went balls out, sending it with a dash of style; the results were spectacular.

  See you next time, Queenstown.

89 Comments

  • + 174
 POD central
  • + 163
 Yep. PODs have been booked until 2015.
  • + 6
 I hate winter! And some great PODs for sure!
  • + 16
 Sometimes PB articles are like books. You may learn more from the ones with words, but deep down you just wanna look at the ones with all the Pics! And this, this is one of those articles. Not to mention I now have screensavers for all of 2013 Smile
  • + 5
 Seeing all of those make me want to move to Queenstown
  • + 1
 I spent a week in Queenstown for Christmas and it was the best Christmas to date! the scenery and riding are spectacular. Definitely going to visit more often. Great article Sean Lee you captured it perfectly
  • + 2
 the actual pod isnt anywhere near as good as most of these photo's whats up with that!!
  • + 0
 santacruz-syndicate you should really book a trip to Windrock, TN where the trails are the scenery and GoPro's go to die...... :-)
[Reply]
  • + 12
 Almost forgot, special thanks to: Kepler Rek, Deon Baker, Andy Weeding, Sophia Rude, Allan Birkett, QTMBC, and the guys at Skyline Gondola.

Keep up to date with my latest work on facebook here: www.facebook.com/seanleephoto
[Reply]
  • + 8
 Hmm, Switzerland or New Zealand...which do i put first on my bucket list. Frown So much Epic in both places!
  • + 5
 get warm and comfortable in nz and then head over to some real gnarly s*it in Switzerland. Both will be amazing man! Smile
  • + 1
 summer in both completes your year,yes? haha.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 I've said it before and I'll say it again: Any aspiring pro DHer or Freerider from North America should sell their car, their soul, and any non-vital organs to fund an offseason in Queenstown.
  • + 1
 where can you sell a kidney?
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Man Queenstown is the placed to be at the moment. Just went for a week in Jan with 3 of my mates and rode all the stuff in the photos deffinatly the funniest place I have been to.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Best town I've ever been in and I've been lucky enough to travel round about, didn't ride when I was there. But the place just seeps of chilled out coolness. Love it.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Oh look its a giant glory and another one and another one and another. NZs most popular dh bike im sure
  • - 1
 Whistler has Demo's, Qtown has Glory's Wink
  • + 2
 Whistler has it fair share of Glory's bro...
  • + 1
 I rode a glory 5 years ago at queenstown and it got me back to dh after some 15 years of not biking so I have special thanks for this place
[Reply]
  • + 5
 HAHAA check out the photo of that guy pissing on the turn to tack it up before they rip it! CLASSIC!
  • + 1
 Don't think he is pissing on it, more scoping out his line :-P
  • + 2
 Yeah I dunno man, that dark patch in front of him looks like he laid down some fluids......haha
  • + 1
 he was checking out his line, not doing impromptu track maintenance
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Epic photos man!!! My mates back in NZ were down there riding last week while I am freezing my arse off here in Canada! Queenstown is amazing!!! You have to ride this place...So much amazing terrain and tracks to ride!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 This Sean Lee kid seems like a pretty good photographer.
  • + 1
 This kid seems to have some inside info
[Reply]
  • + 3
 "Everyone went home stoked, and many beers were consumed." - That's how a damn' good day of riding ends!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 This is the best thing I've seen all week, considering I live in New England and have been doing nothing but snow removal for a week straight! thanks for the great pics!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 This thread is incredible! Photos are just insane and was a fun read. Awesome! Makes me so stoked to ride.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Awesome write up and photos man! You've got a big future ahead!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome pics! Riding FR/DH in New Zealand is on my bucket list. Seeing that guy shredding on the new Glory gets me so stoked to finish my Glory build!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Wow! Everything about this article is awesome. Those dirt jumps and the Jedi quarterpipe are beyond words for me. I need to get to New Zealand now.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Why ? Just why ? ... Why did you just put this in front of me, when I'm actually struggling with my will to leave for Queenstown ....?
  • + 1
 struggling against*
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Sean Lee for President! have shown that to do a magnificent job requires your brain and a lens from 90 €
[Reply]
  • + 1
 How are those Gorge Road jumps so perfect? Is it super dry there or are they treated with a dirt glue? They look, almost, like poured concrete.
  • + 1
 maintained full time bro, they get watered 3 or 4 times a day depending on weather. and yes they do ride like poured concrete too! so smooth!
  • + 4
 And half the time they are chained off so no one can ride them. And anyone who gets anywhere remotely near casing something gets 7 shades of shit torn out of them and made to feel like crap. I've spoken to Pro riders who feel intimidated to ride there
  • + 1
 chained off in preparation for Red Bull Roast It. Yes it's overkill but once its over they will be a lot more relaxed. Bit over the top with the casing call. I've never witnessed that once. Skidding yes. But the jumps are so solid that a few cases dont even effect them. If you rock up and sit at the top until theyre finally unchained then people arent exactly guna welcome you. If you offer a hand with watering and sweeping then you'll get on just fine.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 No wonder i am saving up to move there already. Big Grin sickest place out!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome panning shots of the crash... any chance of revealing your shutter/aperture/iso combination for those shots?
  • + 1
 thanks man... click on the biggest image, the EXIF data is on the side
  • + 1
 Ah... nice. Pretty sharp on the rider at speed at 1/50 f22... good work! Was that hand held?
  • + 1
 cheers... yes it was, just takes a little practice and good luck
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Great photos! Congrats on the crash sequence. Not easy to capture... Good job!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 One of the best I have seen. Well done great pics and I am insanely jealous of the out of this world riding.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Just got back from Q Town yesterday, what a place ! Great photos man, I'm having serious withdrawals already !
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome shots....was out there over Xmas, great country and great riding, just wish it was closer!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 When the snow's away, the bikers will play. I freakin' need to get out of North America ASAP.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 that step down is insane!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Queenstown, a mythic place definitively. Thanks for the photos.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Fu*k Yeah! Going to Queenstown tomorrow, So psyched to shred some decent trails. Thanks for the extra excitement Guys.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Killer pics - I rode some of those places when I was there. Can't wait to get back!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome collection of photos! I strive to achieve such photos
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Great photos Sean.... may be we should get you over to Indo ay ?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Nice pictures ! I love it !
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'm glad that I'm enjoying this in person right now!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 So many sick pics I got a headache!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I miss home. Thank god for Whistler. Bring on Summer.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Sooo much awesomeness!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 That place looks unreal!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 some great pics! Good job Sean!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 So sick fat whips for dayzz
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Sick place lived there for 5 months going back out next year
[Reply]
  • + 1
 11 days and counting. Great write up, can't wait to get there....
[Reply]
  • + 1
 some amazing pics in here
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome job man. Maybe I will study abroad...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Loving the "Local elite riders" part. Wakitipu Shore balls out
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Must save every penny for trip to NZ.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 That downhill track at the beginning looks so much fun!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Best pics on pinkbike if you ask me
[Reply]
  • + 1
 We all know the riding is bangin' what about the women of NZ?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 PODs, PODs everywhere
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Jedi quarter was so rad!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Like, lot, want, go!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Queenstown looks EPIC!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 fucking epic dowg!!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Amazing photos!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome! I will be back!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 a collection of PODs
[Reply]
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