It’s all go on snow

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Coronet Peak and Winter Festival have enjoyed a hand-in-glove relationship since the event
started in 1975. 

In the early days, the idea was to lure visiting skiers from the mountain to party in the town. 

Thirty five years on, Coronet Peak ski area operator NZSki remains one of the festival’s biggest sponsors, and some of the most popular events are still held up the hill. 

“Winter Festival used to mark the opening of the winter season but in the early days they didn’t even think about skiing until early July and the season only lasted about six weeks,” NZSki boss James Coddington says. 

“We now have a season that lasts from the start of June until the end of October. That’s what a $100 million investment by us, including snow-making facilities, has done at Coronet Peak. 

“We now have an almost guaranteed product that’s benefited almost every business in town as well as the wider community. 

“The result is more visitors than ever are coming to Queenstown at this time of year, especially from Australia – and they’re spending.” 

NZ Ski sinks a “significant” six-figure sum into WinterFest each year, Coddington says. 

“These days, we help bring the town to Coronet Peak then bring the people back down to town again. 

“We have a good, collaborative relationship with Winter Festival and it’s one we are excited and happy to continue with.”

Speight’s Dog Derby 

Where: Coronet Peak
When: Thursday, July 1, 12.30pm
Cost: Free to watch – $15 entry fee 

Coronet Peak will be jam-packed with dozens of high-country farmers racing from the top of the hill to the base building with their faithful hounds in tow (townies are also welcome to get in on the action with their pooches). It’s a recipe for hilarity – and in reality it’s total confusion, with barking, shouting and rustic language at its very best. Basically it’s just old-fashioned Queenstown fun.  

Grabaseat Mountain Mayhem 

Where: Coronet Peak
When: Saturday, July 3, noon
Cost: Free 

A day of skifield fun and crazy antics for all the family, this is where to expect the unexpected. Be part of the action or watch in wonder as contestants take on some hard and fast courses in events such as the Suitcase Race and the Dash For Cash. Don’t be shy – you can either enter online for the races or on the day at the Grabaseat tent located on the sundeck – awesome prizes to be won.

Budget Rent-a-Car Mountain Bikes on Snow 

Where: Coronet Peak
When: Sunday, July 4, 11am
Cost: Free to watch – $20 entry fee 

Summer is over, it’s the end of the mountain bike season – not likely! Competitors get out some serious tyres, some serious attitude and go hard on a crazy downhill course. It’s worth the trip up the mountain to see these guys and gals in action or, for the brave, to compete. There are great prizes to be won for those mad enough to ride a bike in the snow (pre-registration is essential for competitors). 

Jim Beam Festival Closing Concert 

Where: Coronet Peak
When: Sunday, July 4, 4pm
Cost: Free 

It’s the last day of festival but the party isn’t over yet. So get up to Coronet Peak for the Jim Beam Closing Concert. New Zealand’s leading reggae/ska/dub band and festival favourites dDub will lead the charge with all the hits form their latest album Medicine Man that you can dance along to on the deck or enjoy while you make the most of the first night ski for 2010.