It's no secret that Jules Lund feels very at home in the outdoors, and New Zealand's beautiful Queenstown
is one his favourite places to visit. The clever Kiwis have added another good reason to take the three-hour flight across the Tasman Sea: Winter Games NZ.
The alpine village is home base for the games, a spectacle of snow and ice that's tipped to become one of the largest winter sports events outside the Winter Olympics. Other venues are Wanaka, Naseby and Dunedin.
Imagine 800 of the world's top athletes competing in 26 snow-sports disciplines, ranging from ski racing to curling, snowboarding to skating and a full adaptive skiing program.
The games will act as a direct lead-up to the Winter Olympics every four years. They will provide invaluable training opportunities for athletes, and many of them will probably appear on the podium in Vancouver at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Winter Games NZ is an elite winter sports competition for the able-bodied or those with a disability who are set to race alongside one another in alpine skiing and cross-country events. Special seminars are held for those working with disabled athletes. Schools in the region will be visited by those athletes, and the initiative is believed to be a way of setting new levels of what's physically and mentally possible.
The winter triathlon involves running, mountain biking and cross-country skiing, all on a hard-packed snow course at Snow Farm.
Natural luge is a variation on the more commonly known Olympic luge which takes place on an artificially refrigerated track. Natural luge is the four-wheel drive of the sport, taking place on an unbanked track. It has a base of hard-packed snow covered in a layer of ice and is enclosed within low wooden walls. Competitors reach speeds of up to 70km/h on Naseby's 360m 10-curve track.
The 10-day-long games include plenty of off-snow activities for spectators and athletes, with live music and entertainment in downtown Queenstown and Wanaka.
Jules had a few lessons from Australian Damon Hayler, snowboard professional and Olympic hopeful. After a few stacks and bruises, Jules was very proud to be taken to intermediate level.
is on New Zealand's South Island.
Winter Games NZ entry is free for all athletes in all sports. All snow sports are free to attend. Stadium events at Naseby and Dunedin have entry fees.
The next Winter Games NZ will be held in 2011.
Air New Zealand has direct services to Queenstown.
One-way fares from:
- Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
- Adelaide $402
- Perth $598
Sales and validity dates apply.
For further information
Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476
33-35 Reece Street
Ph: +64 3 443 4085
Visas: Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.
Electricity: 230V at 50Hz using the same plugs as in Australia.
Time zone: GMT +12.
Currency: The New Zealand dollar.
International dialling code: +64.