A longtime local mountain biking guide predicts riders getting gondola access to Bob’s Peak will add a new dimension to Queenstown.
Tim Ceci, owner of bike company Vertigo, has been for years pushing for tourism heavyweight Skyline Enterprises to allow riders cableway access – and he’s stoked it’s on the way.
“It’ll add a whole new vibe to downtown Queenstown because I think there’s going to be a lot of bikes congregating in the streets and cafes and bars. It’ll have a proper bike park feel to it,” Ceci says.
Ceci’s been guiding on Bob’s Peak for 11 years – on an intermediate trail he built and maintains – using a gondola service cart to lug bikes to the top before noon.
He has long pinned Bob’s Peak, with its existing tracks and pine forest riding, as the prime place to develop bike tourism in the resort, and with Skyline building an entry level trail, he says the hill will open up to a much broader range of riders.
Ceci: “There’re some golden opportunities coming up for entrepreneurial types.”
“The other side of our business is bike rentals and maintenance, so there’s going to be a lot more miles done on bikes with bending and breaking parts and tourists wanting to rent bikes.”
With gondola access planned for the summer months, Queenstown Mountain Bike Club chairman Lance Brown thinks the industry will “grow phenomenally” and could be a cash cow for local businesses.
“They could be up there having a ride, they could be downtown having a beer and a chip 10 minutes later,” he says.
Brown can’t see why the resort couldn’t host a World Cup downhill race – as long as there’s sustainability in the venture.
“We’ve got the tourism infrastructure to host a world class event,” he says.
“The potential’s huge – I can just see something coming down, finishing in the rec ground with a big tent city set up, you know.”
Regardless of whether cable cars cart mountain bikes up, enthusiasts will still be riding the hill, Brown says.
“Since I’ve been living in town, the gondola’s never been open but we’ve always used that hill and enjoyed it.”
Meanwhile local guide and bike nut Simon Smith expects Skyline bosses will be shocked at how many riders would use the cable car.
“I think they’ll be really kicking themselves that they could’ve opened years ago,” Smith says.
Smith, who has spent winters biking in Canadian resort Whistler, warns Skyline needs to learn from Coronet
Peak’s summer season shutdown for mountain biking last year, and keep investing money in new trails.
And Queenstown has already been endorsed by the best in the business as a mountain bike destination, he says.
Overall World Cup champ Gee Atherton and other hotshot international riders were shown around local tracks by Smith while filming Follow Me with renowned mountain bike movie makers Anthill Produc-tions in January this year.
“Those guys are like the best in the world and they were saying the potential here is just absolutely huge,” Smith says.
“With Skyline opening up, I’m convinced it’s going to go boom.”
But one local biker is concerned the focus is too commercially minded.
“A few of us are a little bit worried that some people are trying to make a bit of money out of something that doesn’t really need money to made out of,” the avid rider says.