Trails al­low ‘fun all year round’

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - OUT & ABOUT - OLIVER LEWIS

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.

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