Bikers on the up


Queenstown’s new mountain bike attraction – gondola access – gets thumbs up from visiting riders. Liz Proctor attends a Sunday session

Since Skyline Enterprises opened its cable car to riders in January, Wanaka-based Michael Dawes, 20, has travelled to Queenstown every weekend. 

He has one goal in mind – to ride Ben Lomond Reserve tracks. 

The Englishman hasn’t once hit his other usual resort bike haunts, which require shuttling riders and bikes to the top. 

“It’s pretty awesome, eh,” he says of the easy gondola access. 

Dawes couldn’t afford an $889 ski pass and a $475 bike pass, so opted to fork out $40 a time for a half-day pass. 

“It’s a bit steep for a half day but it’s not too bad.” 

Meanwhile, Blenheim man Dave McKay and a few mates took a week off work to travel to Queenstown – where he’s never ridden before – after hearing the gondola had opened up to riders. 

“I absolutely love it. We hope it’s going to be an annual thing,” McKay, 35, says. 

“We wouldn’t usually come down here to ride if it wasn’t for this. Normally downhill scares the pants off me, but I’m just on such a high.” 

Jonathon Matthews, on a one-week biking holiday from Sydney, agrees: “It’s wicked.” 

But fellow Sydney visitor Sophie Offen, 26, wasn’t impressed with the lengthy Sunday lunch-time queue of about 40 riders. Offen hadn’t yet sampled the downhill thrill. 

“I’m sure it’s ok if you’ve done a run,” she says.