Aside

Rhythm and #sadface

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Live music is not normally difficult to find in Queenstown.  Venues like The FindVinyl Underground, etc. tend to procure a weekly gig worth mentioning, and that even goes without factoring in the usual suspects they showcase on a weekly bases – here’s lookin’ at you, Shay and Pearly/Pistol Knights/Stubacca etc..  However we do seem to miss out when it comes to larger concerts or festivals, with the selection of the latter being less than slim when compared to the likes of Dunedin, Christchurch or Auckland.  Fair enough, their population base is significant, so festival organiser’s can actually warrant dragging artist’s across the world regardless of how well-known they are, safe in the knowledge that with a larger population is an inherent wider variety of musical veneration.  Regardless of your admiration, no one is going to bother spending their hard-earned bringing the artist if the people aren’t willing to part with their own hard-earned in appreciation.

As populations grow, so do the festivals/concerts – unless you’ve lived in a epicenter like say, New York or Los Angeles, there’s almost no doubting you’ve uttered the phrase “why does *random city bigger than yours* get *random artist you want to pledge your allegiance to in person* and not us?”.  It’s simple capitalism friend, and without a big enough plate you’re never going to get the big piece of musical pie you’ve been eyeing off.

So where does that leave Queenstown?  We may be the tourist hub of the South Island, with a population that fluctuates between twenty and sixty thousand people, but those aren’t entirely truthful figures.  In actual fact, we have a relatively stagnant population of approximately twelve thousand, with the rest bolstered by seasonal and interim tourists.  But what of the rest of the townships within an hour or so from Queenstown that would be willing to make the pilgrimage for a night worth remembering ie. Wanaka, Cromwell, Alexandra, Clyde, et al?  Unfortunately it’s difficult for promoters to guarantee a crowd when it is so dispersed, especially when you consider that on top of the average ticket price, the casual festival-goer is going to have to spring for transport and accommodation on top of the usual costs of food and beverage.

So we’re not likely to be the next destination for Coachella or Big Day Out, but we have a proposition:

There was once a simpler time, when festivals like Winterfest were bolstered by major Kiwi artists like Kora and Katchafire for instance.  These concerts were simply part a part of Winterfest for the opening ceremony, and have been foregone for cheaper local acts, whilst the money saved seems to have been invested into other endeavours *cough* outdoor icerink *cough*.  In this particular instance, would it not be worth considering bringing back the big names to further encourage our close neighbours over the hill to come and increase their average expenditure across the town?  And that goes for all of our festivals for that matter – okay, maybe you don’t have to make the concert free every time (just Winterfest, because let’s face it, that ice rink is a excruciating waste of money) – but when we’ve already got a few thousand descending on us for a major event, why not interest a few thousand more by adding a concert to the mix?

It is however unjustifiable for us to get on our high-horse about it when we know less than jack s*@t about the economics of running a festival.  We can talk from the punter perspective though, and after enjoying a glorious day at the Blues and Roots festival here in the bubble just last week, it’s difficult to not sit here and ponder “what if?”.  Surely artists like U2 would work for food and board just to visit.  Hell, that’s basically what the rest of us have done…

 

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Hor D’oeuvres – South Island Style

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So are you coming or going…?

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…is probably the type of question you might get asked at least once during your stint in your resort-town of choice.  The seasonal nature of the characters that keep municipalities such as Queenstown well-oiled and running does mean that we have a high turnover of personnel.  Add that to the millions of tourists that bless our nook of the world on a yearly basis and Queenstown can start to feel almost temporary.  The seasonaires have temporary jobs, temporary cars, temporary housing and temporary phones, whilst the “day-walkers”, “cash-cows” or “holiday-makers” (depending on which bias you’re looking from) have a temporary amount of time…and money.

It is, however, the temporary relationships that seem to cause the most amount of unrest within the community.  Whether it’s the one-night-stand you just dropped back to their hostel, the snowboard bum who became your jaeger-bombing bro-mosexual throughout the winter, or the significant other who has finally decided to rejoin the real-world and leave you’re wallowing posterior – relationships come and go like the bitter Antarctic wind that strafes it’s way through the Southern Alps.  No one likes goodbye’s – regardless of how good the party is that quite often accompanies them – and the deeper you drive the metaphorical nail that is yourself into the hearts of others, the harder it can be to pry you’re rusty arse out for the rest of us.

So really there’s 2 ways for us “lifers” to look at the scenario we’re faced with on the daily.  One could get bitter and twisted, resolving that unless someone has been in *insert destination here* for X amount of time, then they’re simply not worth yours.  These people have taken their losses too deeply, and have essentially chucked in their “friendship towel” in a futile attempt at preventing further pain and “wasted” time.  Don’t expect them to come to your going-away soirée, nor any bar that tourists frequent for that matter.  They’re beyond the initiation conversations and need a deeper experience that you can’t offer, you flake.

Alternatively however, one could take the stance that it is not the places you go or things you do that necessarily have the most profound effect on you, but the people you meet along the way.  Our relationships have shaped us into the individuals we are today – from the very first interaction out of the womb, to the person that served that coffee an hour ago.  We are molded by the touch, sight, smell, taste (too far?) and sound of those around us.  Whether it’s a 5 minute chat to the lonely backpacker across the bar, or the torrid yet romantic affinity you’ve had with your better half for the last 4 years, we are all just products of our physical environment.  So when you’re travelling, or likewise when you’ve stationed yourself too long in a holiday destination, don’t discount those interactions with others too quickly.  They may not be your eventual one-and-only, they may not be able to provide that dream-job opportunity, and they may not have just won Lotto and have thus been burgeoned with an undying necessity to bequeath a hefty portion of cash on the next unsuspecting soul willing to talk to them – but what if they are, can and have?

*this post is dedicated to all of those we have loved and lost – god speed you beautiful devils.  We know you’ll be back*

 

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Don’t live your trip through a computer (but maybe keep it handy)

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So there we were, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, embarking on a trip into the blogosphere with aspirations of weekly updates to keep you up to date with the general ‘goings on’ here in our nook of the world, not to mention the opportunity to impose our literary genius on the world.

And now here we are, a couple of weeks’ in and already 2 weeks late getting pen to paper – or more specifically, digit to hardware.  It didn’t take long for the excuses and finger-pointing to dampen our spirits further –  we’re still yet to figure out what the acceptable timeline is before you can assume you’re suffering from writer’s block – but despite the academic rift, our resolve is strong.  We will persevere!

Our cultural languishing however did serve to remind us of our own individual failures with the written word, specifically when we initially embarked on our personal journey’s across the globe with promises of photo updates, postcards, letter and emails.  Personally I think I even tossed up the idea of a video highlight reel prior to my first lengthy departure, and that was even BEFORE the days of the global action-cam phenomenon.  How hasty and ill-prepared I was.

We know we’re not in the minority in this instance though.  We get the feeling that everyone departs their family and friends with more than a few promises of staying in touch on a weekly (or sometimes daily) basis, intent on maintaining tangible contact with loved-ones regardless of distance or time-zone inconsistencies.  Particularly these days when, provided your destination of choice has some sort of phone-line, it is so very easy.  Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, Facetime, Skype, Twitter, WhatsApp, MySpace, WordPress, even Snapchat, all provide a medium for us to reach out to the world in a social blitzkrieg on our loved-ones.  And yet after a short while – for most of us – it will all fall by the wayside, forgotten in the same way that we forget about diet and personal hygiene.

Which only puts it into perspective just how good our elders were, back before even modems (what is this, modem, you speak of?), when it was only the written word and reliant on the postal service.  Whish at the same time just re-iterates how hopelessly s#@t the rest of us are in the current day and age where it is all so decidedly easy.

In saying that though, maybe that’s the issue?  Maybe it is all too easy for us, and we resign ourselves to the idea of “I can do that anytime, I’ll just do it later after I spend the rest of my day on Facebook”.  Nothing proves this point quite like a rainy-day either.  Or maybe we’re all just so active on our holidays that we don’t have the time to update our brethren.  Besides, we’ve already done our damndest to incite jealousy in the masses before we’ve left home, with constant updates just counting down the days until we leave to our destination of choice.

Whatever it may be, we think we need to be better at this.  We’re most definitely NOT advocating the idea of spending your days hashtagging everything (LUCY!), but it is a shame we tend to neglect the ones that care most about us the moment we vacate their general vacinity.  So whether it’s a postcard to Mum and Dad, group email, photo-upload to Instagram, or simply a status update, just take the time to re-iterate to your loved-ones that you are indeed alive and enjoying yourself, because Facebook won’t let them know that you’re dead.  Seriously, apparently in 2050 the amount of deceased accounts on Facebook will outnumber the number of living.  So while you mull that statistic over, think a little harder about your social-media-ing.  We know we are…

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Go home Winter, you’re drunk…

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Whilst you’ll normally find us front and center at the flashmob snow-dances in the lead up to Winter, we like to keep the less-than-ideal weather at bay for the rest of the year.  So much so that this year Ryan actually announced his allegiance to Rah, the Egyptian Sun God, in an ill-conceived attempt at summoning consistent sunshine throughout Summer.  Religious dedication aside though, there really is little chance of predicting the weather here in Queenstown, so we’d like to share a few pointers with you to ensure a more comfortable visit to our Sunny/Rainy/Snowy/Stormy/Hot/Cold/etc. etc corner of the world…

Visiting in Summer/Autumn/Spring?

A)  Pack for a range of temperatures.  Even in peak Summer, the weather can be either single digits or 30 degrees celcius (day or night), so don’t be one of the people huddling under the fergburger heaters at 4am trying to re-establish blood-flow to your extremities.  Rockin’ a singlet on a night out can look ‘cool’ figuratively and literally, just make sure it’s in temperatures that ensure the former.

2.  Bring sunscreen.  Seriously.  The burn-factor in the Otago region is less than 10min – for perspective, that’s quicker than Australia – and from personal experience, it sucks to high-heaven resigning yourself to a week of impersonating a hermit-crab the moment the Sun pops it’s glorious head out.  Slip, Slop, Slap like it’s your job.

III.  Insect repellant.  This one is not necessarily a “must”, but in saying that it all depends on your intake of Vegemite (high in Vitamin B, which apparently mosquito’s and sandflies are less than fond of).  A high percentage of you will probably be entertaining the idea of doing a bit of hiking around the area, and unless the wind kicks up enough to keep the li’l blighters at bay (in which case, refer back to A.), you’ll probably want to take stocks out in BUSHMAN or RID.

Visiting in Winter?

-  Dress for the cold.  That is all.  Okay, there’s probably more than that, but you’re coming to snowboard/ski right?  Generally that happens in snow, which necessitates it to be cold.  We’re not talking Manitoba, Canada cold here, but definitely south of 0 degrees celcius at least at night on occasion.  We’re firm believers in the idea that it’s better to be too warm than too cold, so don’t be afraid to rug up with the intention of losing a layer or 2 when you happen by Harry’s for a apres-ski bevvy or 6 – that fire seriously cranks.
So that’s it for the most part.  We’re going to leave you now with a couple of photos that were taken today (23rd of January, 2014) that show more than a bit of snow on the surrounding peaks in a Summer that’s been just a little hit and miss.  There’s also a video of Shaun attempting to ride a box on ski’s for the first time ever – needless to say he’s not a skier – which we hope leaves a smile on your collective dial.

Until next time…

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Earning your turns… Queenstown style!

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So with the onslaught of the festive season behind us, we can all start to relax and enjoy the long warm summer days here in Queenstown. With the sun shining until about 9.30pm, everything becomes an all day event… So what do to with all the extra hours in the day… Well, ride of course!

Shaun and I celebrated the 1st of January 2014 in a blur of sweat stung eyes, pumping calves and jubilation as we summited the 1,649m Coronet Peak in the early evening. Our post celebration hangovers were quickly overcome by pushing our ‘2ton’ DH bikes to the summit above the clouds, where we were treated to one of the most spectacular views back down into the Wakatipu basin. But of course, what goes up must come down :)

The reward for our hard work was 3 of the best tracks linked together into the finest descent available back into town. Endura, rude rock and Zoot tracks linking with a tumble or 2, not much peddling and a high-speed blast down the Coronet access road and it was over. All that work and effort for about 20 minutes of fun!

Totally worth it!

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A big tip of the cap must be made to the local biking community and the QTMBC. Their push in maintaining and developing the trails in the region has definitely been the catalyst in cementing Queenstown’s reputation as a biking meca! Chur Boys + Girls

New Year, New beginnings, same old hangover…

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The streets are clean, the wheelie-bins up-righted, and various bodily excretions have been removed from all manner of surfaces.  Queenstown can breathe a sigh of relief having survived the onslaught of reveler’s whom descend on Otago to bring in the New Year with the proverbial ‘bang’.  It can be more than a little daunting for the average tourist over this period, due not only to the sheer volume of people, but also due to the majority demographic we’re forced to endure (here’s lookin’ at you, Southlanders).

So being that we’re 360 days away from the next one, here’s a short tutorial for those of you interested in spending the next December 31st here in Tahuna:

- Book Early

You’re flippantly travelling your way around the world, booking trips and accommodation as-you-go in a merry, flow-going kind of way.  How far is New Years Eve away at this point?  If the answer is less than 2 months, then expect to spend the New Year drowning your sorrows on your parents futon, because you’re sure as s#@t too late to find accommodation in Queenstown.  This goes for just about any town for that matter, let alone the South Island jewel that is QT, you silly rabbit.

- Money, Money, Mommy!  Money?

It’s holiday season and town is full + this isn’t Thailand or Vietnam – EVERYTHING is going to be more expensive and harder to come by.  It’s also the only time of year you might have to experience a cover-charge at bars and clubs around town, not to mention all the Christmas cheer that should have lightened your wallet about a week prior.  Don’t be a drain on your parents bank account when you come up a few bob short at the local bottle-o/off-license/place-that-makes-daddy-stop-crying – bring more than enough and live large for a small portion of your holiday.  You made it this far, and thus probably deserve it.

 – Everything in Moderation

This ranges from moderating your alcohol consumption to moderating the force behind the punch you’ll inevitably lay on the poor punter that just spilled your fresh jagerbomb – we know, we know, they’d get killed in the ghetto for less.  Moderation is key to a successful celebration, and as much as we need people to go to excess and act the fool, it’s only really entertaining if you get the play the part of ‘audience’ – there’s no round of applause waiting for you in the drunk tank.  Just a hangover that would take down a small rhino, and a big ol’ bucket of regret (often mistaken for the half-digested carcass of a Fergburger).  That’s not to say you should go setting the standard on responsibility though – it’s called the silly season for a reason people.

All in all though, Queenstown is a pretty kicka$$ place to ring in the New Year – whether you come to get muddy at the Rhythm & Alps festival (a music festival we recently stole from Canterbury *suckers*), or relax with your adopted family you inherited while gallivanting your way around the country.  Just book out an entire room wherever you stay, because it’s not worth sharing it with the locals*

*bogans

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