Fast-paced win­ter won­der­land

Go Travel New Zealand - - Queenstown - By Steve Gould

If you are look­ing for one of the most unique and ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ences on of­fer dur­ing the win­ter months then look no fur­ther than the South­ern Hemi­sphere Prov­ing Ground’s ice driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Lo­cated in one of the most pic­turesque win­ter lo­ca­tions around and based out of an award­win­ning win­ter prov­ing fa­cil­ity, this is a truly once in a life­time ex­pe­ri­ence.

The South­ern Hemi­sphere Prov­ing ground is lo­cated in the South­ern Alps of New Zealand within 1hr drive of Queen­stown or 45 mins from Wanaka. Guests can also choose to ar­rive via heli­copter, which takes only 10 mins and is the per­fect way to take in the spec­tac­u­lar moun­tain scenery.

Once on­site at SHPG’s new event cen­tre, you’ll soon dis­cover that this is one of New Zealand’s best kept se­crets.

The prov­ing ground fa­cil­ity is where ma­jor car and tyre com­pa­nies come to se­cretly test their cars dur­ing the north­ern hemi­sphere win­ter, mak­ing the most of the award-win­ning pur­pose-built snow and ice driv­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

The event cen­tre is at the hub of the ice driv­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

The ar­chi­tec­turally de­signed build­ing boasts large open fires and

on­site din­ing and hos­pi­tal­ity ser­vices. A day at the prov­ing ground starts with a barista-made cof­fee and fresh bak­ing then guests are in­tro­duced to some of New Zealand’s lead­ing ice driv­ing in­struc­tors, who take them through the plan for the day be­fore head­ing out onto the snow and into the driv­ing.

Audi sup­ply the South­ern Hemi­sphere Prov­ing Ground with a fleet of brand new ve­hi­cles which are specif­i­cally cho­sen to give peo­ple the best pos­si­ble driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – and have the most fun while do­ing it.

Par­tic­i­pants are put into smaller groups where they are as­signed an in­struc­tor and their cars for the day. The ice driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is de­scribed by the head in­struc­tor as a “pro­gres­sive drive day” where each per­son will learn the foun­da­tions of car con­trol in a snow and ice en­vi­ron­ment then progress to dy­namic driv­ing where they’ll learn to drift and con­trol the car through a range of “fun and ex­cit­ing ac­tiv­i­ties”.

The day fin­ishes with a coned au­tocross course drive where times are recorded for brag­ging rights. The in­struc­tors then take par­tic­i­pants for a lap around the fa­cil­i­ties to show them how it’s re­ally done.

The ac­tion-packed day is bro­ken up with lunch at the event cen­tre’s restau­rant, which gives par­tic­i­pants a chance to warm up by the fire and re­lax for a lit­tle bit be­fore head­ing back out for the sec­ond round of ac­tiv­i­ties.

The day winds up back in the event cen­tre with a small prize giv­ing and farewell from the in­struc­tors be­fore the trans­fer ve­hi­cles ar­rive and par­tic­i­pants are trans­ported back to their ac­com­mo­da­tion - there’s usu­ally a stop at the Cardrona Ho­tel or Cardrona Whiskey dis­tillery along the way!

All in all, it’s a fan­tas­tic day out and an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence one of the most unique and amaz­ing ice driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ences avail­able to­day. This is the only ice driv­ing lo­ca­tion avail­able dur­ing July and Au­gust and space is lim­ited.

The ice driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is ideal for groups of 10 peo­ple or more and also has lux­ury apart­ments and con­fer­enc­ing fa­cil­i­ties on­site where guests can in­dulge in a fully catered overnight pack­age or com­bine some work along with play.

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