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On the trail: Queenstown riders Jess Blewitt, front, and Reece Potter at Coronet Peak

By GUY WILLIAMS and TRACEY ROXBURGH

Coronet Peak is fast becoming as much a summer playground as a winter one.

The mountain biking season opened at the Queenstown ski area on December 11, kicking off a hectic schedule of events that began with canine fundraiser Santa Paws the next day.

There’s another 13 events in the calendar, extending through to the end of March, which include a car show, beer festival and disc golf tournament, six mountain biking events and four running events.

Events with national status include the Alpine Grind on March 26, which doubles as the national mountain running champs and a world champs qualifier, round three of Mountain Bike New Zealand’s five-round national downhill series on February 6, and the South Island schools mountain biking champs, held over three days from March 29.

Ski area manager Nigel Kerr says it comes down to making the most of the ski area’s facilities all-year-round, including the large, sheltered courtyard next to the base building, a commercial kitchen that is the biggest in the resort, and the ‘‘20-minute sealed road to
Queenstown’’.

‘‘We’ve got a lot of things to play with.’’

Up and running: Coronet’s newest trail, Upper Rude Rock, is open for business

Meantime, Coronet’s newest mountain bike trail, Upper Rude Rock, officially opened on December 18.

Sixteen years in the planning, construction of the grade-4 track started in October.

It connects with the world-renowned Rude Rock trail, then joins Hot Rod, which takes riders to the valley floor.

At 1200m, it’s thought to be the longest vertical metres of single-track descent in the country.

Coronet Peak’s summer ops manager Tom O’Halloran says there’s still some final add-ons to be made, but riders are already making the most out of it.

“We had about 200 riders up here each day on opening weekend.

“We’re really happy with how the trail has shaped up ready for the summer ahead.”

For the first time this year, Coronet’s putting on mountain bike shuttles, from the base of Hot Rod to Coronet’s base building.

ed@scene.co.nz