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Winter solstice and the shortest day are run at a uniquely Queenstown pace at the 45th Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival.

June 25, 2019 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

On a crisp, winter solstice day at the 45th Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival, reimagining of the iconic Birdman, polar plungers, undie clad racers, jet boat surfing and sprints, were all part of the More FM Day on the Bay on display to thousands of onlookers, packing the shortest day with a long list of . 

“The More FM Day on the Bay is always so much fun for the Festival team, competitors and the thousands of people who flock to the Lake Wakatipu shoreline for the spectacle,” said Rae Baker, Festival Director.

“In 2019 we changed things up for Festival regulars reimagining the AJ Hackett Birdman and the Jucy Undy 500, and bringing back Go Orange Splash for Cash,” said Ms Baker.

When AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand came on board as a sponsor of the iconic Birdman, they did it knowing they wanted to stamp their mark on the event and worked for weeks on the design of the swing that would launch contestants from an elevated wharf platform into the seven degree water of Lake Wakatipu according to Ms Baker.

Competitors included Minister of Parliament for Clutha-Southland Hamish Walker, in a suit, and YouTube star Jordan Watson known as How to Dad. The MP’s jump was impressive enough that he would have been named as Best Flight winner but he was delayed in getting to the prize giving talking to constituents. Matt Jagiello (Queenstown), a competitor from AJ Hackett Bungy, took out the honour. Jordan Watson was named Most Enthusiastic, Marc Everson (Queenstown) won for the Best Costume, Louis Burke (Queenstown) from Sky city for the Best Corporate flyer.

The JUCY Undy 500 always provides cheers and reactions from the crowd as barely clad racers come in contact with freezing water and the stony beach. New in 2019 there were obstacle courses both in the lake and on the beach causing chaos in the water and gravel. The 2019 winner was Cameron Bartlett followed by Ed Simpson and Andrew Robinson.  The woman’s division saw Sarah Dance win by a country mile ahead of Lucy Tofield and Cassie Dayton-Mills.

Go Orange brought back the Splash for Cash and had contestants diving from upturned rafts 50metres from the shore, swimming and running to the finish line. Corneille Cortez beat out Travis Graham and Michael Foy.

The Vincent Holdings Jet Sprints is an annual test of skill and precision for the top jet boaters in the resort.  Multiple title holder Kevin Molloy from Skippers Canyon Jet once again reigns supreme in a time of 1.00.53 minutes around the aquatic obstacle course.  Second was Luke Kenchington from Kawarau Jet in 1.01.45 minutes and third was Harley Lawson from Go Orange in a time of 1.04.48.

In what was possibly quite satisfying, the Go Orange jet boat managed to drench media filming from the shore to the delight of the crowd. Scott McLaughlin, current V8 Supercar champion was on hand to award the trophy.

Between events sponsored Wakatipu High School students raised money for the Aspen Sister City Exchange by completing a polar plunge.  They were joined by eight students from Aspen currently in Queenstown on their annual exchange.

Nineteen year old Red Bull athlete and champion surfer from Mount Maunganui Kehu Butler impressed the crowds surfing the ‘endless wave’ behind the Shotover Jet in what was described as a first for Queenstown Bay.  Greyer heads in the crowds would remember summer days at Kelvin Heights in the early 1990’s when waxed short surf boards were known as ‘poor man’s wakeboards’.

The Festival evening once again saw a feast of live music.  The Saturday Dunedin Sounds gig on the BathHouse Stage featured Soaked Oats, Jack Berry, Mamazita and Lacuna while Audiology presented A Night of Drum and Base at the Memorial Centre featuring Flowidus.

The final twist in a day of surprises for regular Festival goers was the revelation that the Sky city Studio 54 Ball secret location was the AJ Hackett Kawarau Bungy Centre. Dressed for decadence, the Cinderella’s lucky enough to board the coaches to the Ball had bought tickets in the mere seven hours it took to sell out.

Sunday, 23 June, the final day of the 45th Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival, begins at dawn on Cardrona Alpine Resort with the Tour de Cardies.

For the rest of Queenstown it’s a leisurely 12noon start with a performance by a mass ukulele orchestra of local school children led by The Nukes from Auckland. On the BathHouse Stage, is international phenomenon DJ Tom Loud’s time-travelling, ‘dance-through-the-decades’ audio-visual party concept Hot Dub Time Machine. Closing out the 2019 Festival is the Queenstown instalment of Audiology’s Mardi Gras featuring Chase and Status on Coronet Peak.

“The third day of the Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival may have fallen on the shortest day of the year but we packed it to the brim,” said Festival Director Rae Baker.

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