Mountain bike nuts will get more bang for their bucks in the resort this year.
Tourism giant Skyline has set its inaugural eight-month season pass prices for gondola access to its trails at Bob’s Peak – and has landed a national downhill event too.
Riders wanting lifts up to the newly-named Queenstown Bike Park will fork out $599 for the season, Mountain Scene can reveal.
Bikers can access Ben Lomond Reserve trails from September 4 till April 29, weather permitting.
Riders had to stump up $475 for a pass during an initial four-month trial period from January to April this year, so Skyline boss Jeff Staniland expects the new price to be well received.
“Gondola access sort of captured everyone’s imagination and everyone’s been pleasantly surprised with how it has worked,” Staniland says. “At least we don’t have to wait for snow,” he quips.
During the trial run, gondola access pulled a number of high profile riders to town – including the three Atherton siblings, stars on the international circuit, for a two-month training stint.
Along with biking celebrities, gondola access has also attracted a NZ Mountain Bike Cup national downhill series event on January 7 and 8.
And the second Queenstown Bike Festival is locked in for next Easter from March 31 till April 9, event organiser Geoff Hunt says.
He adds the resort continues to grow as a biking destination, with about 100 riders at a recent night ride at Seven Mile.
“If you did that a year ago, there might have been 25 bikers,” Hunt says.
“What the gondola did was change the dynamics.
“It was busy last season, it’ll be a lot busier this season for sure.”
New Queenstown Mountain Bike Club president Tom Hey also thinks punters will be “pleasantly surprised” with pass prices.
But he warns someone still needs to take control of trails and maintenance patrols.
“It’s a good community asset but it needs to be managed,” Hey says.
Hey predicts more northern hemisphere riders will be pulled to the resort for training, but warns trail development also needs to continue or riders will get bored.
Despite the full-length season, Staniland says Skyline is still perfecting the mountain biking model – and it hasn’t made a decision to provide access in the long-term to the Queenstown Lakes District Council-run reserve.
Staniland adds work on the QBP needs to progress, and he has made a submission to council for funding.