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The Ford Endura

Automotive eye candy: Driving the Ford Endura through the Crown Range to Wanaka

The chance to drive the new Ford Endura range around Queenstown earlier this month was a great opportunity to put the five-seater, twin turbo, 2 L performance diesel through its paces on some great terrain.

The Ford Endura

Winding through the Crown Range to Wanaka, I got a real feel for how smooth the new generation platform will run in New Zealand conditions.
Called the ‘Edge’ in the northern hemisphere, the Endura is an SUV that can provide the power and torque needed for a great drive and will fill an important space in the Ford product range.
Refined and spacious, yet with a very capable boot space, I could see a strong resemblance to the Landover Discovery Sport in both looks and performance, with a price tag starting at $73,990.
The high profile of the bonnet and the 20-inch rims make for appealing eye candy but with an 154kW/450Nm engine and electronic stability program (ESP) that made cornering and drive through very pleasurable on such a challenging drive, it’s much more than just a good looker.
I was going to try it on the rough gravel road to Cardona ski field but was way laid at the Cardona Distillery, a must see when in Otago, testing the orange liqueur, vodka and gin. The silver-lining of this hold up was that I got the opportunity to find out what the passenger experience is like while my companion on the trip drove back.
Key features include leather trim and seating, Apple CarPlay, eight-inch colour touch screen, heated seats – great for those cold Queenstown mornings – and with a great satellite navigation system in such a quiet cabin, you hardly heard the drive. Overall the experience was brilliant; a worthy addition to the Ford line-up and a great option for someone looking for a quality SUV.

TREBLE CONE PHOTO MARK CLINTON

Winter thrills and spills: hit the slopes in the Southern Lakes

Four Southern Lakes ski areas will open soon, heralding a winter of thrills and spills on the slopes. Here’s a taste of what skiers and boarders can expect… after all, it’s all downhill from here.

THE REMARKABLES TERRAIN PARK
THE REMARKABLES TERRAIN PARK

The Remarkables is extending its learner terrain by a massive 70 percent this season, as well as installing a new conveyor to access the area. Ski Area Manager Ross Lawrence believes this will significantly improve the experience for novice riders. “The learner experience is about progression, so providing another step will get guests feeling even more comfortable and capable as they gradually move up the mountain.”
Remarkables Snow Sports Academy will also continue. The freeski and snowboard development programmes offer season-long and school holiday courses for children aged 6-18. For those who love jumps and bumps, there are extensive freestyle features across three dedicated terrain parks. The Remarkables is a 40-minute drive from Queenstown and three-quarters of the road is now sealed.

Opens 9 June, closes 7 October*
www.theremarkables.co.nz

Coronet Peak offers the longest skiing hours in the Southern Lakes. Mornings start with First Tracks, when earlybirds can watch the sun rise as they glide down freshly-groomed trails against the backdrop of panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu. As twilight arrives, families and friends can catch up over a pizza or burger, watch the sun go down and take to the slopes under lights.
“People love night skiing – it’s a magical and fun experience,” Ski Area Manager Nigel Kerr says. “And it’s extremely convenient at just 20 minutes from downtown Queenstown.” This winter, night skiing runs three times a week, with Wednesday added to Friday and Saturday nights. “We have key events teed up for our guests to enjoy, bringing some well-known and loved DJs and bands to Coronet.”

Opens 16 June, closes 30 September*
www.coronetpeak.co.nz

Treble Cone is renowned for its unmatched terrain and leg-burning vertical, new General Manager Toby Arnott says. “To complement this, visitors can expect a fresh approach to the Treble Cone experience; wide open, uncrowded terrain, and short lift queues,” he says.
It has a northwest-facing learners’ and beginners’ area, so it’s bathed in sunshine and warmth all season. For hard-core types wanting advanced terrain, Saddle Basin and Summit Slopes offer plenty of challenges with open powder faces, natural half-pipes and fun drops. New for 2018 is a Snow Shoe Experience, which includes a scenic chair ride to the top of the ski area; snowshoe and equipment rental, and a fully-guided walk with a qualified instructor.

Opens 28 June, closes 23 September*
www.treblecone.com

TREBLE CONE PHOTO MARK CLINTON
TREBLE CONE PHOTO MARK CLINTON

Cardrona Alpine Resort is handily situated between Wanaka and Queenstown. It has three wide, open basins featuring some of New Zealand’s most progressive terrain and promises that every family member will find a favourite trail. It also boasts New Zealand’s only gondola cabin-style lift on a ski area, McDougall’s Express Chondola.
Spokesperson Jen Houltham predicts “another epic season” this year. “Highlights of the 2018 winter up at Cardrona will be the Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival; the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ, and the Jossi Wells Invitational,” she says.

Opens 16 June, closes 14 October*
www.cardrona.com

*All dates subject to weather and snow conditions.

Casa Construction

It’s all about the detail: Casa Construction raises its sights towards the 2018 Master Builder Awards

The team at Casa Construction has had a big year already. A brand refresh, launched in March, has helped to position the business for expansion down south to Wanaka. Now with the Master Builder awards in full swing, Casa is focussed on completing more houses that are as beautiful and well-crafted as this year’s entry, titled ‘Light Luxury’.

 

Casa Construction

Light Luxury is perched delicately on the Cashmere Hills, with broad sweeping views of the city and beyond through its industrial height windows.
The house itself is simple yet it is the details – courtesy of architect Thom Craig – that set it apart. The Casa team worked collaboratively with both client and architect to deliver the finishes required to ensure those aforementioned details, would sing.
Attention to the details is a particular passion of the Casa team. Managing Director, Jeff Root says, “anyone can build a house but it’s the hundred little things that we do differently that turn a house into a home”.
The team knows that when collaborating with architects this catch phrase becomes even more important. “Our architect partners have a vision. It’s our job to take that vision, fit it to the client’s budget and help realise the dream in the best way possible.”
The 2018 Master Builder Awards for Canterbury will be announced in July, with National awards announced in November. While the Casa team wait for their results, they will begin to apply their gold standard building practices to their first architecturally designed home, on the outskirts of Wanaka.
For more information, go to
www.casaconstruction.co.nz.

LUMA Southern Light Project - credit Che McPherson Pixel Peeps

Let there be light: LUMA is the annual festival that lights up the southern skies

According to the Book of Genesis, ‘God said “Let there be light,” and there was light. A group of dedicated Southern Lakes locals may not have divine powers, but each year they deliver an innovative light festival that takes people on an interactive sensory journey like no other.

LUMA  Southern Light Project - credit Kiara Collab Photography
LUMA Southern Light Project – credit Kiara Collab Photography

Central Queenstown will shine brightly for four nights over Queen’s Birthday Weekend when the LUMA Southern Light Project comes to town. The free public event, now in its third year, attracted more than 35,000 visitors in 2017 and has gained a loyal following among locals as well as people from around New Zealand and overseas.
Set within the idyllic Queenstown Gardens and along the waterfront, the festival will transform the giant natural amphitheatre into an illuminated winter wonderland full of art, curated collections of stunning light sculptures and thought-provoking installations.
Luma was the brainchild of SILO, a collective of Southern Lakes professionals which – along with its wider group of fellow hard-working volunteers – is highly motivated to give the region more exposure to culture and creativity, to foster and enhance social wellbeing and develop a stronger sense of community.
Duncan Forsyth, whose day job is General Manager and Winemaker at Mount Edward, contributes countless hours of his ‘spare’ time while wearing the hat of Luma Light Festival Trust Chairman. For him it’s all about wanting to “give something back” by providing an event that is entertaining, accessible, family-friendly and joins everyone together.
“It looks like all the streets are paved with gold in the Southern Lakes,” Duncan says. “But the reality is that it can be a very difficult and costly place to live in and to enjoy. Families are working hard and trying to hold down two jobs… sometimes that sense of community gets swamped.”

LUMA Southern Light Project - credit Che McPherson Pixel Peeps
LUMA Southern Light Project – credit Che McPherson Pixel Peeps

Although Queenstown has firmly cemented its reputation as a hub for outdoor activities and adventure sports, Duncan believes the rich and thriving creative side of the Southern Lakes district is often overlooked. “We see Luma as really helping to put our region on the map as a respected cultural and arts destination.”
Without spoiling too much of the surprise, Duncan says this year the aim is to “pull people down a rabbit hole of visual delights”. It’s safe to say that the audience will be stimulated, and enlightened – literally and figuratively. “Every year we want to change people’s expectations of what Luma is about. If you’ve been before you’ll have a new and different experience this time.”
Aucklander Angus Muir, who has been recognised internationally, returns as principal light installation artist, featuring alongside creative art luminaries such as Daniel Brown, Jon Baxter, Puck Murphy, Mapping Mondays and Nocturnal.
Luma Southern Light Project is at Queenstown Gardens/Marine Parade for Queen’s Birthday Weekend (Friday 1 June to Monday 4 June), 5pm-10pm. Entry is free however, a gold coin donation would be appreciated. Car-pooling or taking public transport into town is advised. For more information, visit www.luma.nz.

Southern Lakes Cycling

Trailing behind: set about seeing the Southern Lakes by bike or foot

Autumn is often rated as the most picturesque time of year in the Southern Lakes region, and Queenstown Trails Trust Chief Executive Mark Williams says it’s the perfect season to explore the area by bike or on foot.

Southern Lakes Cycling
PHOTO: MILES HOLDEN

With the trees now displaying the full spectrum of golden-bronze to rusty-red hues, mild temperatures and plenty of daylight hours, Mark believes the pre-winter conditions and stunning scenery are ideal for both cyclists and walkers. He’s on his bike most weekends in the 120-kilometre network of trails and tracks that make up the Queenstown Trail. And, after a year in the job, he is more passionate than ever.
“The Queenstown Trail is very multi-purpose,” Mark says. “It’s a fantastic ride experience for visitors from out of town, but also a great commuter trail for residents. With Queenstown under a bit of infrastructure pressure, it means people can use a different mode of transport to get to work. So it serves a wide range of users.”
From April to June, the views along Queenstown Trail are breathtaking. It traverses two impressive suspension bridges, crosses three rivers (the Kawarau, Shotover and Arrow) and circumnavigates Lake Wakatipu and Lake Hayes.
“At this time of year, you get a beautiful mist. It’s pretty spectacular seeing the mountains poking out from the mist. And you get the first snowfalls, so it looks like a dusting of icing sugar on top of the mountains. With the golden trees and snow, it’s a really nice mixture of colours.”
Mark recommends trying Arrow River Bridges Ride during autumn. For more information, visit www.queenstowntrail.org.nz.

Brownie Construction

Award-winning expansion: Brownie Construction is building a reputation to be proud of

Award-winning Brownie Homes is now known as Brownie Construction, following the company’s expansion into larger projects across the region.

Brownie Construction

Originally established in 2012, the Christchurch-based business currently has crews working on projects in Central Otago, including a stunning residential housing development at Coronet Grove in Queenstown.
From high-end architectural new builds to renovations and repairs on ‘as is where is’ properties in Christchurch, the team covers the full spectrum of services, as well as light commercial, Director James Brownie says. “Our crews are experienced across all areas and we work with trusted architects, engineers and subcontractors to provide consistency and high-quality craftmanship to every project. Through word-of-mouth referrals, we have quickly gone from strength to strength over the years – we do quality jobs so we get the repeat business.”
From design and pricing to completion and landscaping, Brownie Construction provides the complete package. Providing excellent project management, the team prides itself on saving clients’ time and money, always working around the client’s schedule. “By personally managing the project from design to handover, we can be sure it’s well managed and controlled at every stage. We take care of everything and if clients have any concerns they can come straight to me.”
The company also relocates homes, and past commercial projects include the fit-out for the recent Hornby Hub and Palms Mall renovations.
Phone James on 027 3034 810, email enquiries@browniehomes.co.nz or visit www.browniehomes.co.nz for more information.

Queenstown

Thumbs up: Queenstown’s official Facebook page hits 300,000 followers (that’s more than the populations of Hamilton and Rotorua combined!)

Geographically Queenstown may be at the bottom of the country, but it has made its way to the top when it comes to popularity, with fans of the Southern Hemisphere’s premium visitor destination giving the city a big thumbs up on social media.

Queenstown
Queenstown’s official Facebook account recently topped 300,000 followers

Queenstown’s official Facebook account has recently topped 300,000 followers, making it the most popular official New Zealand destination page on the social media platform.
The city’s social media presence continues to resonate with Facebook users, attracting strong engagement from followers dreaming of a visit, or looking forward to their next holiday, and continued growth in followers in the ever-competitive social media environment.
Queenstown’s platforms feature inspiring content including high-quality imagery, video and content from local and visiting creators, photographers and media and user-generated content from visitors to Queenstown.
And with Google research showing that 26 percent of leisure travellers who use the internet to plan travel are looking at social networking sites and apps, Queenstown’s popularity on these channels is vital for the resort town.
Destination Queenstown Marketing and Communication Director Sarah O’Donnell has welcomed this milestone. “We use our social media platforms to inspire travellers to visit with images of our stunning landscapes and compelling content to give our followers a taste of the adventure that awaits in Queenstown.
“We’d like to say thank you to our engaged community of followers and encourage those who are still arm-chair travellers to come for a visit soon.”

First Table

First in first served: we talk to Mat Weir founder of (now international) table booking service with a twist First Table

The media is not always kind to millennials in this country, but the vision and expertise of Mat Weir of First Table will see them eating their words, as well as some very delicious dinners around the world.

First Table

This innovative and actually useful (because let’s face it, not all of them are) Kiwi start-up is now in three countries and both hemispheres, while working hard on opening in its fourth country this year.
The term win-win is overused, but the First Table concept is genuinely that. It’s like an awesome game of ping pong – the benefits just keep bouncing back between restaurant and diner.
It works like this: participating restaurants release bookable dates on the First Table website. Nabbing the actual first table in the restaurant for that date online enables diners in a party of two to four to eat for half price. The restaurant gets diners into the restaurant early; this encourages other diners into the restaurant.

First Table First Table diners usually get the window seats; the restaurant gets the visual advertising. First Table diners get unhurried service and the food as it should be; the restaurant receives a very positive review. The diner gets to try somewhere new in a cost-effective way; the restaurant is likely to get happy repeat customers paying full price at peak times.
Obtaining a login from the website in New Zealand means you can book First Tables throughout New Zealand, in Australia, London, Bristol and Bath and London in the UK, and Singapore restaurants are soon to be added. There is no membership fee, just an upfront $10 (in New Zealand) when you put your stamp on that First Table online. Mat has aimed for few restrictions, the main one being you can’t book the First Table in the same restaurant twice in row, to spread the opportunities a little wider.
A Queenstown local, Mat started with Queenstown restaurants, followed quickly by Christchurch, where there has been very enthusiastic sign-on both by restaurants and diners. A software developer by trade, he put the concept online himself, as well as doing the sales.

First Table There are now customer and restaurant support and business development managers in New Zealand and Australia and a creative writer in Wellington, plus Mat passed his software development duties onto a new team member. The company employs ten people in Australasia and a mix of locals and Kiwis in the UK.
The First Table philosophy is to be lean and smart: you’ll be smart to join in and lean over your First Table.
Visit www.firsttable.co.nz

Wilson & Dorset

Redefining lounging: Wilson & Dorset want to take people into a 21st century approach to living areas

Amanda Dorset and her husband Ben Wilson are on a mission to transform the way people live in their homes. Their business, Wilson & Dorset, aims to “redefine lounging”.

Wilson & Dorset

“People follow this old-fashioned method of setting up their living space, with the traditional three-seater couch, two armchairs and a rug with a coffee table placed right in the centre of it,” Amanda says. “We’re helping people step back and say ‘do I really need those heavy, static pieces of furniture or could I cut out some of the clutter and free up the space?’”
Enter the Intelligent Lounging System, a large collection of high-quality curly woolskin rugs, shaggy bags and stacking stones. Ten sheepskins are used to make one shaggy bag, while six are used to make a set of ‘stones’. Having previously worked in sales and marketing for Icebreaker, Amanda is passionate about how incredible wool is as a fibre.
She is keen to spread the word in an interior design context: wool is robust, repels dirt, liquid and odour, and insulates against both heat and cold, making it brilliantly trans-seasonal.
At the company’s Wanaka Concept Lounge, customers can have a play with the different colours, textures and shapes. That’s when the penny drops, Amanda says. “Once you get people off their heavy armchairs and lounging on rugs and shaggy bags, they appreciate how the lounging system can totally transform their living space. They are connecting with nature and each other, freeing their spaces both inside and out.”
Visit Wilson & Dorset Concept Lounge at 53 Helwick Street, Wanaka. Follow on Facebook or Instagram, or phone 03-443 4376.

Southern Lakes

An exciting upward trajectory: the Southern Lakes are on the up and up

Adventure capital of the world; winter wonderland; jewel in the tourism crown. The superlatives trip off the tongue when describing the Southern Lakes region, which has long been lauded for its jaw-dropping scenery, adrenalin-inducing activities and fine wine and food.

Southern Lakes

Whether you get your kicks bungy jumping from a great height; hurtling down a river at break-neck speed in a jet boat; sampling a glass of Central Otago pinot noir at a winery; skiing or snowboarding at one of the four mountain resorts; marveling at the majestic waterfalls in Milford Sound or discovering the quaint charm of Arrowtown in all its autumnal glory, it never fails to impress.
With Queenstown and Wanaka leading the charge and neighbouring towns (Te Anau, Cromwell, Arrowtown and Hawea to name just a few) nipping at their heels, the Southern Lakes region is riding a wave of growth and development that shows no sign of abating.
While more and more domestic and international tourists flock to the region and pour money in to the economy, its permanent population is increasing at an unprecedented rate. A number of Cantabrians moved to the area – particularly Wanaka – in the wake of the earthquakes. Others bought baches, or a piece of land with an eye to relocating in future.
Now the rest of New Zealand is following suit. Kiwis are starting to shun the big-city hassles and expense for a better quality of life in the regions, and many of them are choosing the Southern Lakes to live in, holiday in, or do a mixture of both.
Residential and commercial construction is booming as builders and developers frantically try to keep up with demand. Tradesmen are certainly a sought-after commodity in these parts. New subdivisions are coming on to the market thick and fast, with sections at Bridesdale Farm (between Queenstown and Arrowtown), Northlake (Wanaka) and the high-end Bendemeer (near Lake Hayes) being snapped up. Te Anau has also benefited from the Southern Lakes housing shortage as homebuyers and investors have increasingly looked for affordable opportunities there.
Businesses are doing a roaring trade too. The ever-expanding Frankton Flats industrial and retail precinct – handily situated on the main road between Arrowtown and Queenstown – is a hive of activity for both locals and tourists. Five Mile shopping centre, with its supermarket and a range of big-box stores, has filled a much-needed gap. The new kid on the block is Queenstown Central. Billed as ‘a premium retail environment’, stage one is due for completion later this year.
Young workers continue to gravitate to the bright lights of Queenstown and Wanaka to ply their trade in the hospitality, tourism and ski industries – and, of course, to enjoy the nightlife. At the other end of the spectrum, Queenstown Country Club is being built for retirees. With world-class golf courses nearby, lakes and rivers for fly fishing and boating as well as kilometres of mountain biking and walking trails on the doorstep, it’s easy to see the attraction.
Watch this space: Southern Lakes is on an exciting upward trajectory.