Ultimate Queenstown


Brown POW at Cardrona

Posted by Dave Fahey: 31st Jan 2018 @ 13:44:25

Sometimes the weather gods just play in your favour. After a scorching Central Otago Summer, the trails of Queenstown have turned dry and dusty. So, you can imagine my excitement last night when I woke to the patter of rain drops on the roof knowing I was off to Cardrona Bike Park the next day.

The conditions could only be described as “Brown Pow” (for those of you not familiar with the term, brown pow is the summer version of a powder day in winter – where the riding conditions are next level). Every corner I turned I was greeted with super tacky, confidence inspiring, hero dirt.

When it comes to mountain biking I’m certainly not the best rider in the world. My skill set lies somewhere between the granola munching XC rider and the downhill pinner. I really enjoy and appreciate all facets of riding. And believe me when I say this place truly has something for everyone.

Once I collected my day pass, I dropped down from the base building to the Whitestar Chairlift via the aptly named ‘Morning Glory’ run. And this flowy little gem truly set the scene for what was to be an epic day of riding.

What first struck me was how every little hit, drop and jump was labelled and even colour coded, meaning that once you get the feel for it you could make hits on new runs with the confidence of knowing that you weren’t launching yourself into space somewhere. You can also tell that these trails have been carefully thought about to maximise the terrain, fall and features on the hill. They have been expertly crafted to a point, that I had equal fun riding all the trails from green through to black lines.

What was also refreshing to see was the diversity of mountain users. There was clearly people that have spent way too much of their lives on their bike, enjoying the park the same as people fresh out of the rental shop. There were families, backpackers, veterans, XC bikes and downhill rigs that cost more than my car.

I made it my mission to ride every trail on the hill – sucks to be me right! I came away from there really struggling to find a favourite. So, I had to break it down into my favourite three runs, one per grade.

  • Green – Sweet As
  • Blue- Arcadia
  • Black - DTL

But if I’m truly honest DTL probably edges out the rest, as it reminds me of one of my all-time favourite Queenstown trails ‘Corotown’.

But when it comes to summer, Cardrona is not just all about the bikes, there was also a procession of people travelling up the mountain to hike, take the Chondola up to the summit ridge for some happy snaps, grabbing a coffee with a view and of course Mountain Carting. After watching these little dirt weapons in action, I’m pretty confident that I’ll be up there in the near future to try my luck at carting down the trails.

All in all, an outstanding day of riding epic trails in a true New Zealand alpine environment, with world class facilities and fun, friendly staff.

My advice – GET THERE! And remember…Cardrona loves you.

Going Full Circle

Posted by Dave Fahey: 11th Jan 2018 @ 19:44:30

As far as jobs go I’m pretty sure my list may be hard to beat – Raft Guide, Jetboat Driver, Beer Salesman, Ski Technician, Kayaker and Builder. But there is one item in the list that keeps luring me back. As I bounce between jobs, countries and rivers, the purr of a Chevy V8 in your ear and the wind rushing past your face always seems to lure me back to the river.

This summer my adventure tourism journey continues, as I join the team from Skippers Canyon Jet as a boat driver a couple of days a week.

As I sat in a boat at Deep Creek waiting for a bus of guests to arrive, I had one of those surreal moments in life. I suddenly realised that this was the very spot where it all began all those years ago.

16 years ago, I arrived in Queenstown as a sheltered trainee Raft Guide fresh out of home with a dream of travelling the world. I won’t lie, those first few years certainly brought this quiet little boy from Christchurch right out of his shell.

I was fortunate to use my trade as a river ninja to travel the world, paddling rivers, experiencing cultures, meeting new people and not letting an opportunity go to waste.

While I visited some spectacular places the lure of home, and Queenstown was always strong. Let’s be honest, if adventure tourism is your game there is no better playground than this! I may be slightly bias.

Over the years I have taken a couple of sabbaticals from tourism related work. But as hard as I have tried to “grow up” the enjoyment that I get from being outside, sitting on a river and helping create memories for people on holiday is just too hard to resist.

And so, after a stint grafting away on building sites, I now once again throw away the shackles of normality in favour of the river life.

As I sit back at Deep Creek and think back to that shaggy haired 18-year-old Raft Guide, I can’t help but think how this journey has sculpted me, how my life has evolved, but how my love for the river life is just as strong 16 years on.

This time instead of heading down stream through class 5 rapids by paddle power in an inflatable, I now head upstream through class 2 rapids in a V8 powered Jet boat.

While much has changed, much has stayed the same – I still talk just as much nonsense, my jokes have got no better, I still love to hear people scream and laugh with excitement and I still feel most at home when I’m on the water.

I now just hope that in another 16 years I can look back again and find myself doing what I love and being on the river.

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