By PHILIP CHANDLER
Hundreds of local and part-time residents are indebted to Queenstowner Peter Atkinson for
their love of cycling.
The 78-year-old, who died last month from a rare heart disorder, founded the Queenstown Pedallers not long after he and his wife moved to the resort 18 years ago.
Through that group he organised weekend and week-day rides for groups of all abilities.
He originally targeted over-60s riders, but membership encompassed a wide age range.
‘‘He was always very particular about having a ride for everybody so no one got left behind,’’ Heather says.
‘‘He helped them buy the right size of bike, not just what the bike shop wanted to sell.
‘‘I’ve got boxes and boxes of handlebars, bike stems, saddles, pedals, everything that he could give to people to help them make their cycling more enjoyable.’’
Every Friday night he’d email an informative newsletter to 600 or so members.
Riders would start and finish at a cafe so, beyond the health and fitness benefits, the Pedallers also became a social network.
When his health deteriorated, members donated him an e-bike, Heather says.
He also freely gave advice on the development of the Queenstown Trails Trust network.
Three years ago, the local Rotary Club awarded him its highest award, a Paul Harris Fellowship, in recognition of his contribution to the cycling community.
There are now moves afoot, by both the Pedallers and Rotary, to build and name a shelter in his memory on the Rotary-initiated Tucker Beach trail.
Originally from Perth, Western Australia, Peter moved to Auckland with his family in the late ‘80s.
He was prominent in NZ’s goldmining industry, floating a Coromandel prospecting company,
and became president of the former NZ Mining and Exploration Association.
He and Heather also formed a South Auckland veterans cycling club in the early ‘90s.
Along with Heather he’s survived by his children Juliana, George, Josephine and Melanie.