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The Queenstown Ice Arena reopens on Monday following its first major renovations since the rink was built in 1996. 

In return for rates relief from Queenstown Lakes District Council, the Graham family promised substantial rink improvements when they took over a year ago. 

Dan Graham says more than 2000 litres of paint has been applied, mainly to the ceiling but also to all walls and the arena surface. 

“The rink was looking a little shoddy, especially above the surface.” 

A new cafe with a full menu has replaced the old concession area. 

An alpine-themed lounge with a fireplace has been added plus changing rooms and bathrooms have also been scrubbed up. 

“Parents with kids skating weren’t comfortable being here because it was quite cold so we thought, let’s make it warm and inviting and modern,” Graham says. 

“We also noticed people leaving for town around lunchtime to get something to eat.” 

The arena has also bought curling stones and hopes to start a Saturday night league. 

Graham won’t put a figure on the renovation cost but says “it’s considerable”. 

“This is just the first stage – every summer you’ll see fairly significant improvements.” 

The arena has joined with the Queenstown Ice Hockey Club to employ a former Canadian pro, Mark Marentette, to coach this season. American Rachel Formanek has also been hired to head up the skating programme. 

She spent 10 years as a competitive figure skater and is a keen ice hockey player.