It’s now just two months until the world’s top winter athletes come together in New Zealand to battle it out on the slopes.
Held every two years, the Winter Games is the highlight of the southern hemisphere ski season calendar, offering world-class competition and high-energy spectator sports in one of New Zealand’s most remarkable spots.
And, as one of the last major competitions before the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea (February 2018), the Winter Games will attract many world-class athletes to join leading Kiwis in their bid to gain valuable Olympic qualifying points.
The fifth edition of the 16-day winter sport showcase will run from 25 August – 10 September 2017. For the first time the event will roll out on all five of the Southern Lakes ski resorts and historic ice hockey international test matches between Australia and New Zealand will take place at the Queenstown Ice Arena.
Kicking off in style
The night time opening ceremony of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2017 on 25 August will include a dramatic, spectator-friendly dual slalom contest staged under floodlights and featuring top alpine skiers from around the world.
This exciting race format is part of a gala opening event at Coronet Peak ski field near Queenstown. Hundreds of spectators, VIPs, athletes and coaches are expected to attend the opening that will also feature a pōwhiri (traditional Māori welcome) from the local Ngāi Tahu tribe.
After the opening, attention will swing to one of the four World Cup events at Cardrona, as well as mixed doubles curling at the Maniototo International Curling Rink in Naseby.
The Remarkables features the new Games event, the North Face Frontier, while Treble Cone also joins the host venue family with a Para- snowboard Banked Slalom World Cup. All mountain sport venues are within walking distance of the base buildings with free entry to events for spectators.
Trans-Tasman Ice Hockey
International ice hockey comes to Queenstown during the Winter Games when New Zealand’s Ice Blacks host Australia in a three-test series at the Queenstown Ice Arena (31 August, 2 & 3 September).
It’s the first time international ice hockey test matches have been held in the resort and Winter Games NZ CEO Arthur Klap is upbeat about the exciting new addition to the sports programme.
“It’s something we had in our initial planning but it’s taken until now to make it come to fruition. The fact it’s happening is all down to the efforts of both the New Zealand and Australian Ice Hockey Federations.”
Give it a go
After the aerial acrobatics of the competitors have wowed the crowds, it would be a shame not to test out New Zealand's best slopes for yourself.
Cardrona, Coronet Peak, Treble Cone and The Remarkables will remain open to the public during the Games. All four ski areas are close to the ski resort towns of Queenstown and Wanaka, and each offers slopes to suit all ability levels.
For the more adventurous powder seekers, the Southern Alps has some of the best heli-skiing in the world with an incredible backdrop of rugged landscapes and natural beauty.
Off the slopes
For those interested in life beyond the piste, the off-snow Winter Games Downtown Sessions will keep visitors busy and offer entertainment for all ages.
As with earlier editions of the Winter Games, a jam-packed programme will deliver concerts, films and other sporting events to bring the atmosphere of the games off the mountain.
Queenstown and Wanaka will play host to the Games’ villages providing a place for competitors and spectators to unwind.
Queenstown, set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, boasts some of New Zealand’s best restaurants and nightlife making it the perfect place to relax or party.
Famed for adventure tourism, Queenstown will keep thrill-seekers happy with the likes of the Shotover Jet and the world’s first permanent bungy site at the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge.
One hour north of Queenstown, along the famous Crown Range Road, Wanaka is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. On the southern edge of Lake Wanaka, the small township offers top wineries, excellent dining and a wide range of activities set in a village of warm welcoming locals.
The Winter Games is a member of the Instep Sustainable Event Programme which ensures people leave the smallest carbon footprint behind whilst having the largest amount of fun possible.
There are daily flights from all major city centres around New Zealand into Queenstown Airport. There are direct international flights just 3 hours from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Accommodation in Queenstown and Wanaka ranges from luxury lodges and 5 star hotels to motels, budget and backpackers.