Trails allow ‘fun all year round’
Two South Island ski fields are turning to mountain biking as a way of luring customers yearround.
Porters Ski Area, just over an hour from Christchurch on the way to Arthur’s Pass, now boasts a 1.2-kilometre flow track jampacked with jumps and berms beside its alpine lodge, 950 metres above sea level.
It follows Cardrona Alpine Resort, near Wanaka, which opened its bike park – the highest in New Zealand – for the third season in a row last December.
Both companies are leveraging the interest in mountain biking as a way of bolstering year-round business models, which for Porters has been driven by its acquisition of Porters Lodge.
It took over management of the building – which can sleep up to 40 people – from the local ski club last winter.
Porters summer activities coordinator Jason Collins said the flow trail was built to drive customers to the lodge, which stayed opened over summer for the first time this season.
‘‘It’s a better experience for people having year-round employment and access,’’ he said.
Canterbury contractor Drummond & Etheridge built the trail, comprised of three zones catering for beginners to advanced riders, over a week in February.
It opened to the public on February 17. Collins said there had been a steady flow of people using the trail, located below the ski area itself, and stopping in at the lodge.
‘‘There’s so many fun features for everybody. I don’t know another track around that has so much packed in to that kind of length,’’ Collins said.
‘‘You’ve got the backdrop of arguably ... the most uninterrupted alpine scenic view from a track of its style in New Zealand.’’
Porters is located south of Arthur’s Pass, off State Highway 73, close to several other mountain bike trails in the Castle Hill Basin area, including some in the Craigeburn Forest Park.
Collins said the new flow trail, which was free to ride, was a natural stop-off point for people heading to or from the other tracks.
Cardrona Alpine Resort has more than 25km of trails in its bike park, largely located within the ski area itself and accessible by chair lift.
The trails were open every day from December 1 to April 1 for the first time this year.
Darryl McCabe gets some air off one of the jumps built into the track.