Spoke Magazine


Posted by Caleb Smith on Wednesday June 16 2010

Jimbo Allan just pointed me to this piece that Queenstown newspaper Mountain Scene did on the whole Skyline gondola access issue. They talk to the man. Read full story below.

Skyline Enterprises boss Jeff Staniland says the company’s looking at trialling access this summer to its Bob’s Peak cableway if a feasibility study stacks up.
The only gondola access allowed now is during mornings till 11am for clients of mountain bike company Vertigo – their bikes go up on a service cart.
Staniland: “We’re always getting people asking and we thought it was time to relook at it.”
There’s a “reasonable chance” Skyline will confirm a trial, starting October, after an eight-week feasibility study, Staniland says.
Providing mountain bike access would cost a few hundred thousand dollars, he estimates.
Staniland says the main challenge will be getting mountain bikes onto gondolas and providing alternative bottom and top terminal access.
“They can’t go through the ordinary [bottom terminal] queue.”
It’s likely the bikes will be clipped onto gondolas.
“We can’t put them in the gondolas or hang them underneath. If you’ve got a big queue of diners wanting to get on, a big number of mountain bikers, how do you manage the two?”
It might be that mountain bikers couldn’t ride on busy public holidays like New Years’ Day, he says.
Rainy days, because of the mud that bikes would drag through, might also be off-limits. Staniland says the other issue is pricing.
“It would be interesting to know what the real demand’s like. A lot of those mountain bikers have very little money but they’ll have a $10,000 downhill bike.”
Any arrangement is likely to involve day, multi-day and season passes.
Staniland’s comments are a turnaround from last September when then Skyline boss Ken Matthews – now company chairman – told Mountain Scene: “Mountain bikers and bikes don’t make a good mix for our other business, our other visitors.
“We’re not set up to handle it in volume and we’ve maintained that view for quite some years and will continue to do so.”

Vertigo owner Tim Ceci (left) says summer mountain biking would join bungy, jetboating and rafting as Queenstown’s “big activities” if gondola access gets the green light.

“It’s going to be huge for the town.”

Bob’s Peak has six official downhill trails and a dozen unofficial ones, but there’d need to be more track development to cater for less extreme riders, Ceci says.

“The new face of town will be a full face in goggles.”

NZSki closed down a summer mountain bike operation on Coronet Peak last summer, citing lack of commercial viability and disruption to pre-winter capital works.

NZSki charged $249 for a two-month adult pass during the 2008/2009 summer.”

  • http://www.bullermtb.com Adam

    I think they’d be surprised at the number of mountain bikers who do spend money on more than just their bikes.

    I know myself and a number of people in the group I ride with spend quite a bit of mtb tourism.

    Not saying we’re uber wealthy but I’ve done 4 heli trips, countless over night missions to Hanmer/Nelson including a week in Queenstown.

    Give us intensives to travel and we’ll do it! I’d travel to Queenstown again for a new experience.

  • Paul

    We recently did a trip to NZ from west oz and were really surprised that there was a gondola operating right next to some insane downhill runs but it wasnt available. We would have stayed at least a couple more days if there was another way up the hill that didnt involve such a big climb and Queenstown would have got a bigger portion of our ‘tourist bucks’ as a result. QT seems so mountain bike friendly other than the gondola issue.

  • Mike

    The powers that be only need to take a look at the set-up at Whistler to work out that this should be a no-brainer. I’ve heard that they now have more summer visitors to the region following development of the downhill MTB park (with associated accomodation and retailling opportunities etc) than they do in winter for the traditional ski season