Skyline: get on ya mountain bike

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A longtime mountain biking guide wants better gondola access up central Queenstown’s Bob’s Peak after Coronet Peak’s shock summer shutdown.

Vertigo Bikes co-owner Tim Ceci – who’s operated for 10 years – believes giving mountain bikers greater access to Bob’s Peak via Skyline’s gondola will spark a new tourism boom.

Coronet Peak owner NZSki, citing lack of commercial viability and a preference for other capital works, has shut its lifts to summer mountain bikers – as revealed by Mountain Scene last week.

Ceci pats NZSki on the back for initially having a go, but says Bob’s Peak is a better venue than Coronet for long-term expansion of mountain bike tourism.

“Mountain bikers want to ride in trees and on single tracks. Coronet Peak doesn’t have any of that.
“The trails they did develop were amazing but there’s 10 times the amount on Bob’s Peak. But there needs to be more development of beginner trails and we need to have [gondola] access.”

Ceci suggests gondola operator and tourism heavy­weight Skyline Enterprises could designate certain gondola carriages for mountain bikers only.

“It would be huge – based on the experience of overseas resorts, the numbers coming through [Queens­town] and the accessibility of biking. It’s a growing sport.

“That access is something that we have to have. I’m not slating Skyline. I’m just saying if a different view was taken there’s a massive opportunity there.”

But Ceci’s idea is falling on deaf ears, as outgoing Skyline boss Ken Matthews says: “Mountain bikers and bikes don’t make a good mix with our other business, our other visitors.

“We’re not set up to handle it in volume and we’ve maintained that view for quite some years and will continue to do so.”

Vertigo has an existing arrangement with Skyline to run guided trips – but must finish using the gondola by 11am.
Matthews is happy to maintain that but not expand it – “Bikes can be somewhat clumsy things, covered in dirt, riders get covered in dirt, they leave dirt behind in the chairs.

“It’s only going to divert us from what our real activity is.”

Meanwhile, Outside Sports boss Liz Cox, whose company had an exclusive arrangement to run Coronet on-mountain bike rentals and workshop facilities, says the chairlift closure is a “real setback”.

“NZSki’s reluctant decision is commercially understandable but disappointing to us and local riders.

“We saw long-term potential for a well-developed mountain bike park to attract summer tourists.”

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