Queenstown Winter Games NZ

Queenstown Winter Games NZ

Just back from a wonderful 2 weeks volunteering for the Winter Games NZ (http://www.wintergamesnz.kiwi/). This biennial international sports event now attracts over 600 international athletes from 30 countries and is ranked as one of the top 5 winter sports festivals in the world.

Over the last decade Arthur Klap, the Winter Games NZ CEO; Sir Eion Edgar, the Chair; and the Board have created a wonderful world class event from scratch. Based in Queenstown, Wanaka and Naseby, the event has been embraced by the local communities and regional and national businesses. Key sponsors include Audi, the NZ Government and land community trusts. This year saw a big increase in sponsorship by new and dynamic companies including Red Bull, SkullCandy, GoPro, 42Below and more.

With a budget of around NZ$5 million and over 400 volunteers, the event now faces the challenges of managing success. It is also being assessed as to whether it could become an annual event – lots of support, but lots of questions:

  • Can the community and businesses support an annual event – another $5 million to fund every year?

  • Can the ski areas continue to support a large influx of ski racers every year? Ski season revenue from skiers and boarders may be more reliable.
  • Could Australia or Chile develop a similar event and compete with Winter Games NZ?

  • Will international athletes continue to join the Winter Games NZ every year?

With extensive global and local media coverage (TV3 had great daily shows) by over 200 media, alongside strong media support from Tourism New Zealand, the event certainly promotes New Zealand in winter.

Behind the scenes the Winter Games NZ are strong on metrics and survey volunteers, competitors, the local community and sponsors. The Winter Games have a robust environmental waste management programme that is independently audited. It is a very well-run event.

For me seeing the growth of Queenstown over the last twenty five years, but especially the last decade, is really interesting. With airport visitor arrivals growing by 17% pa, tourism development in the main town is heading to capacity. Queenstown is expanding southwest to Glenorchy, east down past Frankton, and out to Arrowtown. With more than NZ$250 million of Queenstown development occurring (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/better-business/68765853/Queenstowns-250-million-construction-boom) the resort has ‘growing pains’. Infrastructure such as roading has not kept up and the five mile drive from Queenstown to Frankton is regularly taking 30 minutes at peak times.

The development at Frankton is staggering – the Remarkables Shopping Centre is now being complemented by the NZ$125 million Five Mile retail development.

Affordable housing for staff in Queenstown is a real challenge, however some of this is being addressed by a Community Housing Trust (http://www.qlcht.org.nz/) that manages housing development and allocations of sections for potential recipients within new residential development.

Elsewhere in the region, over the last decade, there has been a variety of transport proposals to ‘address’ the Milford Sound crowding issue. We have seen various proposals for gondolas, a tunnel, a monorail and a proposed Hollyford Road suggested to address the challenges of transporting visitors to Milford Sound. There is a real need to take a long term planning view of transporting visitors to Milford, and this should include ‘park and ride’. Lessons from National Parks in Australia, Canada and America demonstrate that addressing transportation to high use National Parks needs creative solutions. We need to move beyond reacting to individual Milford proposals to a strategic sustainable transport approach.

Posted: Monday 12 October 2015

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