In the beginning: Queenstown's original sister city coordinator and chair, Barry Robertson, with Aspen Sister Cities coordinator Jill Sheeley, who's still in that role 30 years on


Queenstown was toasted in the United States last weekend.

The toast, in the exclusive Colorado resort of Aspen, was to the 30th anniversary of its
sister city relationship with Queenstown.

Under an official proclamation signed on March 19, 1992, Aspen became Queenstown’s first sister city and Queenstown became Aspen’s fifth.

Last week, the anniversary was also marked by a Zoom call between local mayor Jim Boult and Aspen’s mayor, Torre.

Over the years, the relationship’s mostly revolved around school exchanges, with Wakatipu High students going over in January, then Aspen students coming here in June.

The last exchange saw local students visit Aspen in 2020 just two months before the world shut down, though there’s since been some virtual exchanges.

The next visit by Aspen students is due this June.

Boult had also been due to lead a delegation to Aspen two years ago, however the pandemic put paid to that.

Aspenite Jill Sheeley, who was part of the original Aspen delegation that visited Queenstown in March, ’92, has coordinated the relationship from their end for the entire 30 years.

Barely legible: A plaque on a Queenstown Village Green stone wall, presented by Aspen, marking the resorts’ sister city relationship

She says last weekend ‘‘we raised our glasses to both of our beautiful towns and the wonderful relationship’’.

Local Remarkables Park developer Alastair Porter, whose team’s interacted with Aspen’s council, believes the US resort’s ‘‘a great sister city for Queenstown to learn from’’.

It’s dealt with similar problems, he says, like affordable housing, worker shortages, traffic and rising property prices.

Interestingly, in December, Aspen’s council declared a six-month moratorium on new residential development and a nine-month pause on issuing permits for short-term rental properties to try to counter the effects of the resort’s real estate explosion over the past two years.