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45th Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival – Moving start to Winter Festival

June 22, 2019 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

The 45th Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival has opened on a moody winter’s day with a moving torchlight hikoi, mihi whakatau (welcome ceremony) and live music on the Wakatipu lakefront.

Hon Kelvin Davis acknowledged ‘our ancestral mountains, our lakes and our mana whenua’. He thanked Festival organisers for the Matariki Torchlight Hikoi and urged the gathered crowds to enjoy the coming days.

“The whole Festival will be superb and I hope everyone will get out and enjoy it,” said Hon Kelvin Davis.

Mayor of Queenstown, Jim Boult welcomed performers and visitors to Queenstown’s ‘showcase season’ and urged them to meet the ‘fabulous locals’.

“There will be competitions and hilarity every day,” said Mayor Boult

“And I urge you tomorrow night to see one of the best fireworks displays in the southern hemisphere”, said Mayor Boult.

The Festival celebrates the start of winter and falls within Matariki, the Maori New Year. Proceedings began with manuhiri (guests, local and from afar) being guided through Queenstown’s beautiful streets in the Matariki Torchlight Hikoi.

“Creating a beautiful sea of fire torches, our manuhiri were met by representatives of the multiple iwi that watch over Tahuna Queenstown and welcomed into our place with a spectacular Waka Ama and Mau Rakau demonstration,” said Ms Baker.

“Our manuhiri were welcomed and accepted into our winter celebrations before a Ngai Tahu led mihi whakatau (welcome ceremony) preceded performances by the legendary Trinity Roots and Ladi6.”

Earlier in the day the Festival’s first event of ‘competition and hilarity’ was the Winter Fest Hospo Race. Held since some time in the 1970’s, the now annual Hospo Race a chance for Queenstown hospitality staff to go head to head and showcase their top service staff in a variety of hospitality related tasks; a suitcase run, bed setting and cocktail shaking.

The 2019 champs are Hotel St Moritz, with Skycity placing second and Novotel – named Not Fast, Just Furious on the day – taking third place.

Last night, the pre-Festival opener was a sold out live filming of TV3’s 7 Days featuring Jeremy Corbett, Paul Ego, Chris Parker, Ben Hurley, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Hayley Sproull and Mel Bracewell (2018 Billy T Award winner). The comedy stars stay on to present two Winter Fest Comedy Nights tonight (Thursday) and Friday.

Festival Director Rae Baker was thrilled with how the first day went and urged Queenstowners to wrap up warm and head out for tomorrow’s mountain events on Cardrona Alpine Resort and the Real Journeys Friday Fireworks followed by live music on the Bathhouse Stage including Mitch James and L.A.B.

“It’s all about getting amongst the fun and silliness,” said Ms Baker.

“Take the family dog up the mountain, bring the family into town for the fireworks, have dinner at the Festival Village and finish the night with some of the best new music around.”

Limited tickets are available from for;

  • Audiology presents A Night of Drum & Base
  • Adam McGrath at The Sherwood

Limited registrations are available on for;

  • Winter Fest Dodgeball Champs teams
  • Tug O War on Skis
  • Monteith’s Dog Derby
  • Monteith’s Dog Barking
  • Skycity Jingo
  • Tour de Cardies
  • Macpac Mountain Bikes on Snow

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