Queenstown Winterfestival

New Zealand welcomes winter with pantless races, sheep farmers.
Birdman, Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown NZ

Winter is under way in New Zealand. Five resorts are already turning lifts and 15 more are slated to open within the next week. In Queenstown, the center of South Island skiing, the season kicks off with Winterfestival.

There are typical skiing-related events—ski movies, bands, avalanche awareness classes, and a rail jam—but the Kiwis also pray for snow in some pretty unique ways.

For instance, if you’re feeling warm and body confident you can enter the Undy 500 on Sunday, the 27th. Strip down to your underwear (mandatory) and race around an obstacle course on the beach in downtown Queenstown. First prize? Jockey gift certificates.

There is also a Birdman contest the same day. Competitors launch off of the docks into Lake Wakatipu, where water temperatures hover around 45 degrees, with whatever kind of human-powered flight device they can attach to their body. Farthest launch wins. Previous semi-successful getups have included balloons and water wings.

On Thursday the 1st New Zealand’s finest sheep farmers show up at Coronet Peak to race their sheepherding dogs down the ski slopes. After the race there’s an in-town dog-barking contest, so, if your dog isn’t particularly fast or coordinated it can still win a prize for being loud. No sheep are harmed in the process.

The 10-day festival is based in Queenstown and all the on-snow action, including the Dog Derby, happens at nearby Coronet Peak.


Sunset at Hanmer Springs Ski Area.

New Zealand

A Swiss guy gets fed up with summer and is itching to ski in August. So he hops a flight to New Zealand. Fortunately for us, he brought his camera along. Photos by Simon Heiniger.

Arctic Man

Arctic Man

At Arctic Man, skiers and snow-machiners unite for one of skiing's weirdest races. There are busted bones, burning couches, and hopes of seeing Todd Palin. Surviving the 4.5-mile race is the easy part. We have helmet cam footage and in-depth account from last spring's race in Alaska.

NZ Slope thumb

New Zealand Winter Games

This year’s New Zealand Winter Games, from August 13-23, features four freeski events: slopestyle, half pipe, big air, and skier cross. Keep an eye on athletes like Devin Logan, Jen Hudak, and Jossi Wells at this event, and as they prepare for the 2014 Olympics.

Lindsey's Brother's New Haircut

Vonn Bakes Banana Bread Before Today's Downhill

How does the best skier in the world prepare for today's Olympic downhill race? If you're Lindsey Vonn, you bake banana bread and shave your little brother's head. And your family gets together for a regular, 'ol Midwestern party—minus the karaoke and cheese curds.

Skiing in Las Lenas

Southern Hemisphere Updates | Skiing Resorts |

Normally the season in Southern Hemisphere is well under way by this point in the year. Not this year. Natural disasters and a lack of major snow means the Southern Hemisphere winter has started off slow. But ski camps, contests, and other events are still going on. Here’s what you need to know if you’re headed south.