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Ben Lomond - Queenstown From Above

Posted by Dave Fahey: 27th Jan 2015 @ 20:29:42

Ben Lomond is well and truly amongst my favourite walks to do in the Wakatipu, and an absolute must if you have some spare time in Queenstown – oh, and a desire to walk up a mountain.

Most people would choose to access Ben Lomond from either 1 Mile power station or by taking a bit of the sting out of the walk & utilising Skyline Gondola. From 1 Mile signs will direct you towards the top & give you a somewhat over exaggerated timeframe of 6-8 hours return. In reality, if you have done some hiking in the past 4-6 hours should see you knock it over. The lower track winds its way through a combination of Native Beach forest and exotic Douglas Fir. From here it opens out in open grass and tussock land through to the saddle between Ben Lomond and its neighbouring Bowens Peak. It’s at about this point that you realise whether you’ve picked a good day for summiting. As with all mountains in New Zealand wind is the killer. It certainly does pay to look ahead at the forecast to pick a calm day. If the hat is getting blown off your head at the saddle, I suggest taking a picture of the view, soaking it in and returning to Queenstown.

If mother nature is playing its part however, you are in for a bit of a leg burner. From the saddle the track takes it up a notch as it climbs towards the summit. The summit lies approximately 4 km northwest of the town centre, and reaches a height of 1,748 m (5,735 ft). Once at the top you will be treated to some of the most incredible views in the valley. As you tower nearly 1400m meters above Queenstown you will take in views across the basin towards The Remarkables, down the lake in all three directions and back across the Southern Alp’s, taking in the areas biggest mountain – Mt Aspiring.

My pieces of advice for this visual spectacular are: Layers – make sure you take both an additional thermal layer and a wind proof jacket. Water – once exiting the forest there are no sources of water, so make sure you take enough water for a day of physical activity. Food – The view is amazing and you’ll want to soak it in, so take lunch and enjoy a bite to eat looking down upon paradise. And last but not least – DON’T FORGET YOUR CAMERA!!!

Enjoy!

Cardrona Bike Park - A must ride.

Posted by Dave Fahey: 3rd Jan 2015 @ 09:50:43

At this time of year a wave of disappointment usually creeps over the Queenstown biking community, with Gondola access to Queenstown Bike Park halted by Skyline Queenstown for the busy season. It is worth pointing out that this is in an effort to deliver a quality product to what has always been there core business. None the less the cutting of bike access as bikers flock to town has always left a hollow feeling.

This year however one man’s loss has been another’s gain. Just as we were all preparing for the closure of the bike park news spread through Queenstown that Cardrona Alpine Resort had been frantically working post ski season to put in bike trails & was planning to open Whitestar Chair for bike access from December 27th – January 11th. And most importantly the price was right. I was staggered to learn that chairlift access was open from 10am to 4pm and a day pass was only going to set you back $40.00 – Bargain!!!

Due to the nature of tourism work I had been frantically working through the festive season, all the while hearing stories of epic trail riding filtering back from the Cardrona Valley. Yesterday however was my day – no work, sunny skies, jobs at home on hold & I was off to Cardies.

With rain a couple of days before packing down the previously dusty trails we were greeted by super tacky, hero dirt as we dropped away from the base building and down to the bottom of Whitestar via Morning Glory. We spent the next few hours exploring every trail, every berm and every rock that Cardrona had in store, and to be perfectly honest I was blown away. Some solid elevation lead to really nice long trails with everything from fast and flowey to technical rock gardens. I was personally amazed by how much work had gone into developing so many trails and trails that suited all ability levels, which was reflected in the hugely diverse range of riders on the hill.

A unique feature of the park is their freeride zones. Simply put these are areas of the mountain containing no formed trails, but rather areas where riders are free to ride the hill as they see it and skid in new lines.

If I was to pick two trails as my favourites they would have to be Arcadia and Dirtstar Downhill. Arcadia is a nice long blue trail that sweeps its way down the mountain offering all styles of riding, while the Dirtstar Downhill was built for the up and coming nationals, and will keep even the best of riders on their toes.

A couple of tips that I can pull out of my experience at Cardrona Bike Park: 1) Take some spare tubes, between two riders we had three punctures from the unforgiving rock. 2) Head to the Handle Bar Café and try the pulled pork burger.

All and all if you like riding bike Cardrona Bike Park is an absolute must – Go get some!

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