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First Snow of 2014

Posted by Kate Fahey: 27th May 2014 @ 14:54:49

Winter has arrived in Queenstown!

As we went to bed on Sunday night I found it hard to go to sleep, outside the snowflakes were falling and the forecast was calling for snow down to lake level. When we awoke on Monday morning, the town was a blanket of white.

The 25th May saw the first big snow storm of the winter season set in. Local schools were closed and kids enjoyed their first snow day, building snowmen and grabbing the toboggan to go for a slide on the nearest hill.

With the first of the Queenstown ski areas, Coronet Peak, due to open on Saturday 7th June, the snow couldn't have arrived at a better time. Cold temperatures means all ski resorts have now started their snow making schedules and Queenstown is preparing to celebrate winter in style with the 40th Queenstown Winter Festival kicking off June 20.

Mt Cook - A must do side trip!

Posted by Dave Fahey: 20th May 2014 @ 11:21:21

Last weekend Kate and myself hit the road, escaped the Queenstown bubble and spent a couple of days hiking around a mind blowing corner of New Zealand. I would hate to think of the number of times I have ventured the road from Queenstown to Christchurch. Each time passing the turnoff to Mt Cook and making the comment, which I’m sure we’ve all made, next time.

Arriving at the turnoff we were immediately greeted by the stunning blue, glacial waters of Lake Pukaki glistening in the Autumn sunlight. Unfortunately, the jewel on the crown, Mt Cook was hiding under a veil of cloud. It did however seem to be our lucky day. Within five minutes of ascending the valley towards the highest peak in the rugged Southern Alps, the suns powerful rays shattered and dispersed the low level cloud, unveiling Aoraki’s snow-capped peaks.

As we neared the foothills and Mt Cook village the sheer size of the surrounding mountains kicked in. The near vertical mountains seem to erupt from nowhere and as the native beach forest make way to dramatic hanging glaciers, it’s hard not to call this beautiful country home.

With heads swivelling from side to side like tourists in our own country we pulled into the Hermitage, our accommodation for the evening. As we rose up the south tower in the glass front elevator we were greeted by 180 degree panoramic views which unlocked all the hidden gems of this sheer glacial valley.

With bags dumped and walking shoes on it was time to go exploring. There is an endless amount of walks to do in the area and the only real limiting factors are your time, fitness and experience in the mountains. As we were there for a relaxing weekend away climbing mountains wasn’t on the agenda, but we were keen to maximise views.

On our first afternoon we drove to both road heads and went for short walks including a wee walk to the Tasman Glacier Lake. With camera in hand we were keen to get some pics and with clear skies and no wind the mountainous environment put on a show. As we sat down with a beer in hand looking up towards Tasman Glacier it was hard not to slip into a state of pure relaxation.

On day two we woke early with a slightly fuzzy head due to a beautiful bottle of local Pinot Noir and delicious three course meal at the Hermitage. Our waiter for the night had told us the Hooker Valley was well worth a look and the glacial lake at the foot of Mt Cook had an abundance of large ice bergs floating in it. It was another beautiful clear day and was well worth being on the trail early to see the crisp early morning frost disperse as the first rays of sun spread across the valley. It even trigged a number of icefalls filling the valley with a deep rumble. The track is well cared for making it capable of covering good distance quickly.

As we arrived at the Hooker Glacier Lake it was clear to see that its beauty has by no means been oversold. Flat mirror like water reflected the large icebergs floating in the lake truly amplifying their size and enriching their deep blue colour. We were fortunate to have this area to our self for half an hour or so as we chilled out in the early morning sun. The decision to rise early was more than justified as we passed a steady stream of people walking in the opposite direction upon our return. Traversing back down the valley the unanimous decision was that a return to Mt Cook in the near future was imminent and a trip to Mueller Hut was essential.

All and all an amazingly relaxing weekend was had in what has to be one of the most stunningly beautiful and dramatic parts of New Zealand. So next time you’re planning a trip to Queenstown, a side trip to Mt Cook is a must do.

Top 5 coffee spots around Queenstown

Posted by Kate Fahey: 20th May 2014 @ 10:42:39

There are many choices when it comes to choosing a cafe in Queenstown. So we've put together our local tips on where to grab a great cup of coffee:

1. Vudu Café and Larder

Right in the heart of Queenstown this café has a food cabinet to die for. Walking up to order a coffee your eyes will feast on impressive pastry treats and you’ll find yourself ordering a scrumptious delicacy to accompany your delicious coffee. A must try on your visit to Queenstown!

Open: 7:30AM - 5:00PM
Where: 16 Ress Street, Queenstown
Phone: 03 441 8370

2. Glenorchy Café

Arguably the most scenic drive in the Southern Lakes, the road to Glenorchy boasts incredible scenery as its winds its way to the top of the lake and the quaint township that awaits. Once you have explored make sure you grab a bite at the laid back eatery, GY Café. It is sure to impress with delicious homemade treats, great coffee and a cosy atmosphere inside plus an amazing outdoor patio. Tip: Be sure to check the GY Café is open before you leave Queenstown (45 minute drive away) as it closes down over the winter months often.

Where: Mull Street, Glenorchy
Phone: 03 442 9902

3. Joes Garage

A local favourite, this funky friendly café is located in a secluded little spot down Searle Lane. Finding the place is half the fun and walking in you will be greeted with delectable smells from the open kitchen. A comfy atmosphere will make you feel right at home and the coffee will have you coming back for more.

Open: 7:00AM - 4:00PM
Where: Searle Lane, Queenstown
Phone: 03 442 5282

4. Walnut Cottage

Prepare to fall in love with the gorgeous garden setting of this country cottage café. Located just 20 minutes from Queenstown near Lake Hayes, you can enjoy dining amongst the flowers or the warmth of the cottage. If you are a fan of large bowls of coffee, wholesome home cooked food and sweets then this should be on your café hit list!

Open: 9:00AM - 4:00PM
Where: 265 Lake Hayes Road, Queenstown
Phone: 03 442 1090

5. Boat Shed Café

What sets this café apart from the rest is the waterfront location and incredible views across the lake to the Remarkables. The Boat Shed Café, as the name suggests, is situated on the marina along the Frankton Track. Serving up breakfast, lunch and coffee in a relaxed lakeside setting, this café is sure to impress.

Open: 9:00Am - 5:00PM
Where: Sugar Lane, Frankton Marina
Phone: 03 441 4146

Queenstown Winter - No need to put the bike away.

Posted by Dave Fahey: 11th May 2014 @ 19:57:07

While summer has now drawn to a close and daylight has drastically diminished, there is no need to put the bike into retirement yet!

Last week saw another summer of shred up Skyline sent off in style with a sizable crew of local pinners in fancy dress completing the now eagerly awaited closing day mega train. It was great to see Skyline kick in some cash in 2014 for the inclusion of the super-fast and flowey Thundergoat trail from the clearing, which is also a great way to avoid the heavy legged pedal along the return track. QMTBC also delivered the goods once again with the development of another great loamy, hand built tech track 'GSD' led by all round club GC Fraser Gordon. 

Further trail development by the club and trail sensation Tom Hey @ Extra Mile Trail Building, saw Coronet Peak turned into the ultimate Enduro playground with Pack Track & Sack linking the ever popular Rude Rock trail to old school classic Skippers Pack Track. A new wee extension to the Lake Dispute trail seemed to pop up overnight and meant the slog through the infamous uphill grass paddock is now rewarded with some burmed goodness as you return to 7 Mile. And those cheeky Wednesday night digs meant that everything that had seen epic amounts of traffic over summer stayed in good nick, and tidied up for winter.

For many as the season change the desire to bike doesn’t diminish & that is where Queenstown riding comes into its own. While the higher alpine tracks disappear under a blanket of snow, it is time to head for the foothills & into the shelter of the forest where the brown pow delivers all year round. With no restrictions on trial use & some excellent drainage there are still ample opportunities to pull the bike out of the shed over these frosty winter weekends. 

If trashy winter TV is wearing you down, head into R&R Sports grab yourself a night light, throw the excuses aside and jump on the bike after work. Keep an eye on the club Facebook page as there is always a crew of riders keen to head out any night of the week to get their weekly Skyline fix or to smash out some laps at 7 Mile. Look at any hill around Queenstown on a winter’s night to see the flicker of lights winding their way through the trails of Queenstown, powered by riders determined to keep the wheels in motion all year round. If you’re feeling really keen there is always the opportunity to join the Wednesday night digging crew, where one has the ability to put their own personal mark on the Queenstown trail network.

While ski fever is running strong through my veins, the passion to bike is still too strong to put the trusty steed out to pasture yet. So for now daylight riding is limited to weekends and the lights are already out for some quality Queenstown night riding.

See ya out there.

Dave

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