Queenstown New Zealand
Getting set to rival bike parks around the world, the Queenstown Bike Park located in the Ben Lomond Recreational Reserve high above Queenstown, opened for its first full biking season on Saturday 17 September. The result of collaboration between the Queenstown District Council, the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club, Skyline Queenstown and Cookie Time Limited co-owner and bike enthusiast Michael Mayell, the bike park had its first outing in a trial earlier this year.
Around 50 keen mountain bikers including former junior world downhill mountain bike champion and local Queenstowner Scarlett Hagen, Skyline chief engineer Ross Davidson who designed the hooks that allow bikes to be carried on the gondolas and project managed the park’s trial season, and several members of the Queenstown mountain bike club celebrated the opening of the first ever full season for the bike park.
Taking to the trails with infectious enthusiasm, downhill mountain bikers of all levels rode down – fast – before taking the gondola back up the hill to do it all again.
The world class bike park offers the only gondola-accessed downhill mountain biking in the southern hemisphere and features over 30 kilometres of purpose built tracks. Dubbed the ‘Whistler of the Southern Hemisphere’ by some of the biggest names in the international biking fraternity, the bike park has some famous fans including the royal family of biking top pro riders Dan, Gee and Rachel Atherton family after opening for a four-month trial season earlier this year.
Scarlett Hagen, who is now studying in Dunedin, says the trails in the Queenstown Bike Park are “right up there with the best in the world.”
“These trails are as good as those in Whistler or Morzine in France. There are trails for all abilities and the environment and scenery is just stunning. The beginner track is super easy while the black runs are seriously challenging.”
Widely acknowledged for his contribution to the establishment of the Bike Park, Skyline Chief Engineer Ross Davidson was delighted to welcome the opening contingent of riders.
“I’ve been a recreational rider who loves the descent for many years. Local mountain bikers have been pushing me to get it happening up here – we now have a really simple system for loading bikes, the support of the Skyline Board of Directors and management and a fantastic set of trails.
“It’s been a labour of love for many people. The tracks are just fantastic thanks to Nathan Greenwood of Phat Lines. I went to Whistler last year to see how our trails rated and am happy to honestly say we compared very highly.”
Ross believes that given the support of the town, which he says is building nicely, Queenstown has what it takes to become a major mountain biking destination.
“As people get behind mountain biking as a visitor activity, we’re going to start seeing bike racks everywhere,” he says.
Supporting the park with a unique sponsorship agreement is Cookie Time Limited (CTL) which provides a One Square Meal ‘bite’ bar with every bike park lift ticket sold. The official fuel of the park, One Square Meal is a breakthrough product that delivers one third of daily nutritional requirements.
CTL founder, Christchurch-based entrepreneur Michael Mayell, fell in love with the park during the trial opening earlier this year. He has since been an enthusiastic supporter helping with park launch plans, branding and a new website : www.queenstownbikepark.co.nz
Mayell is the proud owner of the latest in mountain biking downhill technology, the Zerode frame. Designed in New Zealand and made in the US, the Zerode is the top of the line for downhill handling
Cycling is a huge growth industry in New Zealand, with 1.2 million New Zealanders riding bikes and more than 200,000 bikes imported each year. Cycling tourism is also on the rise, both domestically and internationally. All those connected with the bike park see a strong future for Queenstown as a biking destination.
“We’ve got a world class downhill with the bike park, as well as a whole range of riding around Queenstown,” says Scarlet Hagen. “There are dirt jumps, x-country trails and a whole network of scenic rides. And it all comes with all the magic that Queenstown already has.”
The Queenstown Bike Park is open for an eight month season that finishes in April 2012. Lift tickets cost $60 for a full day or $45 for a half day.
Queenstown NZ Bike Park