Our New Zealand correspondent Jimmy Carling shares an insight as to what Christmas is like in Queenstown…looks amazing!
Once again Christmas has come and gone in the blink of an eye… So much hype for one day, but I hope you all managed to see beyond the rampant commercialism of it all and enjoy the company of those around you.
Santa and Jimmy Carling on top of a mountain at early o’clock in the morning. Photo:Sven Martin
Christmas down here can be really hit and miss sometimes. Given the fact a large portion of Queenstown residents are from the northern hemisphere, it takes a little getting used to seeing snowflakes in shop windows whilst your walking around in your wife beater and shorts with a cold beer in hand. Of course, the other big question in the run up to the 25th is what the hell are you gonna do? The majority of people in Queenstown rolled in either on their own or, at most, with a small group of friends and so have no family here. Most of the Kiwi’s shoot off and spend it with their families dotted around NZ, but for the internationals, our families are not so easily reached.
These undeniable truths mean that Christmas is a different beast entirely to what many would normally be used to. I’ll give you an example. A Christmas at home for me normally goes something like this: Firstly, wake the oldies up. Then make tea. Then open presents before using the wrapping paper to get the log burner going. Hugs and kisses and big fat thankyous, then wrap up warm and head off to Nan and Pop’s. Exchange gifts. Then make our way out to a cosy restaurant for a big fat roast by a fire. Then watch my parents and grandparents get completely rat-arsed in hilarious fashion, then drive us all home after being sat at the table for five hours or until we all get kicked out because my Nans getting too loud, whichever happens first. (Not really, but the image of my Nan slumped over the bar or trying to pick a fight with a waiter is making me laugh).
Here in QT however, my day went a little something like this: Wake up at 4:30am, hike up a mountain with about 25-30 odd other people, pin it back down to the bottom on the hardtail, jump back into bed by 7:15am, wake the girlfriend up, make tea, open presents, hugs and kisses and soppy stuff, drive out to Littles Road for breakfast, drive to 12 mile delta to go canyoning with everyone, head back home for a shower and put my best lipstick on, stroll along to a friend’s house before stuffing our faces silly and doing secret Santa pressies, then a movie, then frisbee action in the park, followed by a gentle sunset stroll back home. It was a beautiful day and shared with a fantastic group of people. Needless to say that night I slept for 14 hours straight!
Xmas morning ride… Even Santa made an appearance…
Chris Ball hiking up with epic backdrop .
Two compulsory group photos… this one of the early morning mountain mission mentalists.
… and this one of the Crimbo canyoning crew!
Also this week we were fortunate enough to have Mr Sven Martin in town and riding some of the local trails. The stocky South African snapper has been on a bit of an NZ tour with wife Anka and seems to be squeezing a lot into his brief time down under, including a good old catch up with kiwi racing legend John Kirkcaldie. I thought carrying my little point-and-shoot was a pain in the arse, but not anymore after seeing what hardware this guy packs into his camelbak! It was great to meet the man behind the lens and hopefully the mountainous backdrop of Queenstown lends itself nicely to forthcoming pages of Dirt mag.
Apart from that we’ve seen a huge change in the weather in the last few days. The intense heat has been replaced with stair-rod like rain and kinda put a dampener on things for a couple of days. The volume of water that passed through in 48 hours was so huge that Lake Wakatipu has actually risen by a couple of feet. That may not sound like much, but when you see how big that lake is and the time frame with which the water level rose it is astounding to say the least. Fortunately before the downpour I was able to get a few (mostly out of focus) snaps of Luke McCombie, Fozzy Bear Walder and Bret Frew sessioning the super booter up in Mini Dream.
And so New Year… Unfortunately Queenstown is not such a pleasant place to be for this one. It goes from being a charming and scenic little bubble to a stinking, bogan-filled hell hole as hordes of aggressive little pissheads make their way here (mainly from Southland!) to abuse everyone, piss on everything, puke on everything and destroy everything. Today I cut through what is normally an empty camp ground to ride over to Skyline, as I do on every ride, only to have to weave through dozens of annoying little shits shouting abuse, including my favourite heckle “Ah yeh BMX bandit going for a ride yeh?!”. Firstly, tw*t, it’s got gears and 26inch wheels, and secondly, yes I am going for a ride! By the 31st this camp ground will be completely full with such charming members of society, and that’s only one camp ground. I’ll admit to never hanging about for New Year, and this year is no different as I shall be spending it with my other half up Coronet Peak, seeing in the New Year and then riding down at sunrise.
Whatever 2011 holds for you, may it be full of hours spent riding and laughing with friends. Life is too short to be miserable. Happy New Year.
Jimmy Carling in festive mode. Photo:Sven martin