Extreme weather hampers opening of Skyline gondola for bikes

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Exposed areas of Hammy’s Track still under snow Mother Nature has forced the Queenstown Bike Park to delay its scheduled opening date for the 2011/12 season. Skyline Queenstown, which provides gondola assisted bike access to the park, confirmed that its service will now begin on Saturday 17th September. It was due to start yesterday.

The recent storm that brought chaos to Queenstown and much of the South Island dumped more than 40 cm of snow on trails throughout the park that is managed by Queenstown Lakes District Council. Ongoing freeze-thaw has prevented scheduled maintenance that would have seen it open on schedule.

Phat Lines, contractors employed by the Bike Park, have been preparing trails for opening day since before the latest dump. Much of their scheduled work has been hampered by the weather and the need for unexpected snow clearance.

Blair Deasy, Skyline Queenstown General Manager, said the MTB crew was working very hard to repair and maintain trails. “It’s disappointing but probably comes as no surprise given we’ve had the biggest snowstorm in Queenstown for more than fifty years. This short delay gives us time to bring forward maintenance work to ensure the trails not only open in good condition but stay like that for the rest of the season,” he said.

Both the Wakatipu Trails Trust and Vertigo Bikes recently announced they were helping fund maintenance of the Queenstown Bike Park. Some of the work allocated for this funding is now taking place before the park opens, removing the need for temporary trail closures during the season.

Mr Deasy said Skyline has already sold several season and half-season passes but they are acting to compensate these riders. “We’re contacting all pass holders inviting them up for a free buffet lunch. It’s our way of compensating loyal local customers who are mad keen to be hitting the trails. We share their frustration but can guarantee that the park will be in the best shape possible come opening day.”

Even with the two-week delay the season will run for seven and a half months.

For more details on Skyline MTB visit: www.skyline.co.nz/queenstown/MTB

Forested MTB trail showing significant snowfall