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Fresh snow and a special cultural welcome on the first day of the 43rd Queenstown Winter Festival.

June 24, 2017 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

While the Queenstown Winter Festival is usually known for its wintery madcap events, a new special cultural welcome stole some limelight on the opening day.

“We achieved all that we had hoped for with today’s opening events,” said Lisa Buckingham, Queenstown Winter Festival Director

The 43rd Queenstown Winter Festivals opening day celebrated our farming, tourism and cultural heritage with humour, colour and respect in our beautiful alpine surrounds,” said Ms Buckingham.

The Monteith’s Dog Derby and Dog Barking, Comedy Night and the QRC Hospitality Race all delivered what the Festival is known for – comedy and chaos. It was the Queenstown Winter Festival Welcome that drew the community and visitors to the waterfront at sunset to acknowledge a sense of place and belonging to a special place.

“The new Queenstown Winter Festival Welcome on the new opening night programme brought together traditional Maori culture in a unique Queenstown environment in a way not seen at the Festival before,” said Ms Buckingham.

A double hulled waka paddled at dusk into Queenstown Bay to be greeted by Ngai Tahu kaumatua, runanga, a kapa haka group and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett. The local and international crowds gathered on the waterfront were hushed as they watched the waka arrive with the backdrop of pink hued skies that cleared on cue after a day of snow and fog.

Following the welcome, the Wakatipu High School Kapa Haka group performed stirring waitata before Anika Moa and then Rhythmonyx entertained the crowds.

Earlier in the day had Anika Moa performed to a sold out Queenstown Memorial Centre audience of Mums, Dads, whanau and ‘bubbas’ singing her Songs for Bubbas to the dancing and appreciative audience, some of who had travelled from Invercargill and even Auckland.

The Monteith’s Dog Derby and the QRC Hospitality Race have featured at every Festival since 1975 and neither disappointed.

Fresh snow on Coronet Peak became a distinctly Queenstown dog park for 48 country dogs and 37 townie dogs and their humans who rode chairlifts up and then ran, slid, barked and whistled their way down the mountain. This year’s country winners were Rev and Jacob Mackie from Blackmount in first position, Toa and Prue Johns from Nevis in second and Flo and Michelle Osbornefrom Middlemarch. Taking out the townie titles were Queenstowners Cliff and Brad Saville in first place, Sox and Sean Bale in second and Ted and Rusty Wilson in third.

The fun continued on Earnslaw Park with the Monteith’s Dog Barking. The best barker were judged by the gathered crowd to be Dave from Nevis, Gus from Omarama, and Manson from Manapouri much to the relief of Aaron Johns, Jesse Porter and John Broughton respectively as it saved them from having to get up on the stacked hay bales to howl on all fours.

That said, Emma Dermott of Queenstown took out the consolation prize with her human bark judged as the best in show and Pax escorted by Christine Breman of Queenstown was the best dressed.

The QRC Hospitality Race came with a twist this year with cocktail making added to the skills the resort’s best and brightest hospitality representatives were expected to show off. The winning team was from Mercure, second were Team GB from the Hilton Queenstown Resort and Spa and the St Moritz team came third. While the judges had some comments on their hasty bed making, the cocktail tasting curried favour.

The weekend started early for many in Queenstown as sold out events and venues hosted Comedy Night, the Winter Feast by the Pop Up Chef, the Sky City Winter Quiz and the Gibbston Valley Wine & Cheese Tasting ensured Thursday night was too tempting to stay in.

The programme for Friday 23 June includes Festival favourites the Old Mout Dodgeball Championships, the Real Journey’s Friday Night Party and Fireworks, the Southern Stampede take on the Botany Swarm in the first of an ice hockey double header, a second sold out Comedy Night and the new Real Journeys Thank You Cruise.

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