New Zealand’s first e-bike festival debuts

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New Zealand’s first e-bike festival will debut in Arrowtown this weekend, a year after it was originally planned.

Cyclorama is the brainchild of film and television producer Dave Gibson, who was inspired by similar international festivals – and McEntyre’s Hill, near Arrowtown.

Mr Gibson, who took semi-retirement in the village in 2018, said he used to find a boost to climb the steep hill to get to Arrowtown. So he bought an electric bike, which made the trip much easier.

He then discovered that there were e-bike festivals in Europe and one in Verbier, Switzerland, “which I thought was really cool, it was just that kind of really fun festival feeling.”

He launched Cyclorama last year, intending the event to be held in November, but it was postponed due to Covid crowd restrictions.

This year, he decided to bring the event forward, to stage it over the long weekend. He expects around 300 e-bikers to take part, with up to 2,000 other people accompanying the ride.

“I hope the crowd that shows up will be all locals – people who come to enjoy the band and look at the bikes for sale, hopefully it will be all locals, but in terms of people who have bought bikes Tickets for rides are about 80% out of town.

“That’s the good thing about the Labor weekend – we moved it from last year, when it was November, and we thought we’d put it in a weekend of three days and that would make it a bit more appealing, and I think it worked out reasonably well.”

Organized, staggered bike rides include an early morning Awake with the Birds cruise around Lake Hayes, including brunch at Dishery on the return; Tour de Gourmet, which includes tasting-style food stops at four locations along the route; Ginology, during which riders will make their own gin; The Hop Trail, a 50km hike punctuated with craft brewery tastings, and Peddling Pinot, a trip along the Arrowtown and Kawarau rivers to Gibbston for a tasting showcase and lunch.

Mr Gibson said that upon their return to Arrowtown, all participants would end up at different bars and restaurants to share the love across the city, while from 3pm on both days the Queenstown Funk Orchestra would perform at the festival center on Butler’s Green.

Made possible with the help of the Regional Events Fund and support from Queenstown Lakes District Council, Mr Gibson hoped to make the event annual and, based on international examples, expected it to grow in coming years.

“He probably won’t quite wash his face this year, [but] I’ve looked at a lot of things like this that work in Europe, and they just keep growing – e-bikes are becoming such a thing, they just keep getting bigger and bigger.

“I think next year it will be 25% or 30% bigger than this year and keep it going.”

Sarah O’Donnell, Director of Marketing and Communications for Destination Queenstown, said it was fantastic to be hosting a new cycling-focused event in the area that would showcase the area’s incredible cycling and the ” wide range of world-class experiences” for which Queenstown was famous.

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