New event at Heli Challenge

Top young skiers and boarders will get their chance to shine at the inaugural Junior World Heli Challenge, starting on Friday.

Heli Challenge

The event is the forerunner to the well established week-long World Heli Challenge, which sees competitors taken by helicopter to back country locations where they seek to impress judges with their skill and daring antics.

Three local kids are among up to 10 boys taking part in the 12 to 16 year old competition, return competitors Lake Hawea brothers Hank, 15, and Finn, 13, Bilous and Ben Hume, 15, of Clyde.

Event founder and director Tony Harrington said in the past some young skiers had competed as hand-picked Young Guns so it was a natural progression to create a tailored event.

The event will be held during a one-week weather window and will include one heli-accessed competition day and back country tuition, mountain awareness training, snow days and adventure activities.

The World Heli Challenge begins a week later and includes two competition days – a freestyle day and an extreme day.

There will also be a strong local line-up with 2012 winner Will Jackways and Wanaka legends Sam Smoothy and Fraser McDougall. International competitors include snowboarder Antti Autti from Finland and 2012 women’s champ Jacqui Edgerly, of the United States.

The event climax will be the iON Showcase Awards and Canon Shootout at the lake Wanaka Centre. “It’s a film festival on steroids,” Harrington said.

Musician and family set for ‘oily rag’ tour

An orchard, a beachfront, a front porch, a sports ground and a long list of living rooms across Canada and the United States are among the unconventional tour venues where Lake Hawea singer-songwriter Anna van Riel will entertain audiences over the next three months.

”Anywhere that people will have me,” she said this week, as she prepared to depart for Vancouver next Tuesday with husband Locky Urquhart and their daughter Matilda (2), to begin a house concert tour through North America.

The ”Whistle & Hum” tour will visit environmentally sustainable homes and eco-conscious people and is named after the launch of Ms van Riel’s third album. It has an alternative-country, folk and bluegrass sound and is believed to be the first album made almost entirely in Wanaka.

The $40,000, 8000km road trip of a lifetime has taken more than a year to plan and has been funded mostly by contra-trading. The resourceful Ms van Riel has bartered home-grown produce, worm farms, personalised performances, music lessons and a multitude of other goods and services for sponsorship. Speaking engagements, live concerts and grants have also helped.

”I’ve had to be really industrious, ambitious and courageous. It takes so much guts – you get a lot of knocks.”

Self-described on her Twitter profile as a ”tree-huggin, lentil-lovin, ukulele-pluckin, kazoo-tootin, coffee-brewin, apple-stewin hippy who lives for music and sun”, Ms van Riel’s ambition is to share not only songs but sustainable ideas with people she meets on the trip, then to educate others on her experiences once back in New Zealand.

”My whole tour is a bit of an experiment to show anyone with an idea that they can make it happen on the smell of an oily rag, by having gumption and motivation.”

Mr Urquhart, a builder, hopes to gain ideas on inspiring ways to live from houses visited along the way.

Much like the generosity of people in her home town before the tour, Ms van Riel said her North American hosts had been ”overwhelmingly kind” in promoting and organising tour stopovers.

Pre-tour networking is reaping other rewards, too – a car-seat for Matilda has been offered by one concert-goer, the fare for a ferry crossing by another, and a former dinner guest of Ms van Riel’s is providing a van for the duration of the family’s travels. The family’s carbon footprint will be offset by tree-planting sessions throughout the trip and back home.

In order to bring the somewhat ”beat-up” borrowed van up to scratch and pay for fuel, Ms van Riel is making a final fundraising push in the form of a ”Romancing the Stone” raffle – being drawn today – which includes Champagne, movie tickets, accommodation, a meal out, and a $4000 diamond and sapphire gold ring, donated by her mother-in-law. While most of her international concerts are already confirmed, there will be some unplanned stops along the way.

”I think it’s healthy to leave some things to chance. It opens doors for beautiful opportunities, unexpected surprises, good or bad … they’re all good learning experiences.”

Despite its many highs and lows, the planning phase of the journey alone had been worth the effort, Ms van Riel said.

”If this was the end of it and I wasn’t even going on tour, I already feel like it’s been an amazing big adventure.”

Minutes July 2013

Minutes July 2013

A Lake Hawea father has unanimous support from the Wanaka Community Board to set up a children’s BMX park in the township.

Geoff Small put his proposal for a bike track on Queenstown Lakes District Council-owned land on the corner of Domain Rd and Noema Tce to the community board last week.

The father of two said while there were plenty of natural recreational opportunities in the area, children needed a “healthy outlet” in a location that was easy for parents to monitor.

The long, narrow site was perfect for a children’s BMX track because it was naturally downhill to flat. With the help of a professional track shaper, Mr Small is proposing a 150m-long hummocky track which would suit all ages – younger children could “roll through” it, while the older kids could jump.

He had written approval from four of the five neighbours.

The environmental impact would be small, with just some dirt needed to create the jumps, he said.

“There’s nothing like a pile of dirt for kids to play with.”

Mr Small, a professional skier who also has an impressive number of mountainbiking titles under his belt, said BMX racing as a child was one of the ways he learned about healthy competition and the consequences of taking risks.

“That’s an important lesson to learn early, rather than jumping in a car.”

There were already “20 odd” children in Lake Hawea who met regularly to ride their BMX and the number of young families living in the area was growing.

Many sports were costly – both in terms of money and caregivers’ time – and BMX provided a less expensive alternative.

The community board agreed to support the bike park in principle, providing any safety or resource consent requirements were met and affected neighbours gave their approval.


Mid Winter Pot Luck Dinner!

Don’t forget to put our … … Mid Winter Christmas Pot Luck Dinner … … in your diary,  for Friday 26th July.


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