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Real Journeys Friday Night Fireworks and Party 2017 JG 12

Artful dodgers, influencers, and fireworks at the Queenstown Winter Festival 2017

Artful dodgers, influencers, carnivorous competitors were just the prelude to thousands of party people watching the explosive fireworks and live music on a still Wakatipu evening at the end of the second day of the 43rd Queenstown Winter Festival.

MEDIA RELEASE: Artful dodgers, influencers, and fireworks downtown at the Queenstown Winter Festival 2017

Artful dodgers, influencers, carnivorous competitors were just the prelude to thousands of party people watching the explosive fireworks and live music on a still Wakatipu evening at the end of the second day of the 43rd Queenstown Winter Festival.

“A day like today, with the buzzing Festival energy on the streets of downtown Queenstown absolutely palpable, is what makes it all worthwhile for the team at Queenstown Winter Festival,” said Lisa Buckingham, Festival Director of the Queenstown Winter Festival.

The day started with the annual Old Mout Dodgeball Championships in a new beach front location. Teams dressed to their chosen aliases with hilarious sartorial results. This year’s champs were Team REESpect from the Rees Hotel with Balls to My Face coming in second.

Suited far more conservatively were attendees at the NZSki Business lunch who were addressed by Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism Minister Hon Paula Bennett high above the town at the Skyline on Bob’s Peak.  Richard Leggat, Deputy Chair of Tourism New Zealand; Lou Sanson, Director General of the Department of Conservation and Mayor Jim Boult of Queenstown Lakes District Council also spoke to the gathered business community offering varying views on maintaining Queenstown as a premium visitor experience.

At Lakes Hayes Pavilion social media gurus Lauren Bath and Garry Norris shared their influential learning from the world of social media to coach and mentor social media best practice with marketers and fledging social media influencers at the Olympus Queenstown Winter Meet.  Participants were then transported to the up until that point secret spectacular location at NZ High Country to put to use their new found skills to work and collectively wallpaper social media with their posts.

Back in Queenstown the streets were beginning to fill with Festival goers.  The sparkling Queenstown Village Ice Rink opened and will remain so until 2 July operating from 10am to 10pm daily. The Festival Hub at Earnslaw Park is busy with live music, food and people from noon until 9pm each day. A one off that no one present will forget was the first ever Great Coalfire Rib Eating Race which opened with a local celebrity contest.

At 5pm the Real Journeys Friday Night Party & Fireworks kicked off with MC’s and comedians Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego keeping the crowd in good spirits.

Ninety deserving Otago and Southland volunteers enjoyed the Real Journeys Thank You Cruise hosted on the TSS Earnslaw. The Lady of the Lake cruised the Frankton Arm and around Queenstown Bay before anchoring in prime position for fireworks viewing. Ian Turnbull and Jane Forsyth (nominated together) were drawn from all the attendees to officially toot the Earnslaw’s horn to signal the ignition of the fireworks.  

The nomination for Ian and Jane said that they were huge contributors to the protection of the environment working tirelessly as volunteers at Te Kakano Aotearoa native plant nursery, helping weekly with plantings, and coordinating and overseeing trapping lines run on behalf of Forest & Bird and DOC in the Makarora Valley.

The skies over Queenstown lit up with a huge display that Lisa Buckingham described as one of the most spectacular festival fireworks displays that she has overseen in her five year tenure as Festival Director.

“The fireworks tonight were truly spectacular, bigger and better than we have ever set off and a great way to announce the start of winter,” said Ms Buckingham.

Which was perfect for the Olympus experts coaching photography enthusiasts on how to best capture the night show at their Fireworks & Light Painting Photography Workshop at the Crowne Plaza.

Then the live music fired back up with chart toppers from Christchurch Nomad performing a set to an enthusiastic crowd of fans that included their hit song ‘Oh My My’. The Shambles from Dunedin followed and kept the crowd dancing until the new later closing of the Real Journey’s Friday Night Party & Fireworks at 9pm.

Two final events of the evening were timed to keep the energy levels high and the party going. A second sold out Comedy Night saw Paul Ego, Jeremy Corbett, Justine Smith, Dai Henwood, James Nokise and Sera Devcich sending their audience into fits of laughter and local ice hockey heroes the SKYCITY Stampede took on Auckland’s Botany Swarm in a fiercely fought match at the Queenstown Ice Arena winning with 6-2.  The rematch on Saturday night will be keenly anticipated.

“The atmosphere tonight was electric, the crowds on a par with previous years and the vibe incredibly positive.” Said Ms Buckingham.

“Everyone is smiling and having a great time – what is there not to smile about when you have two more days of this to look forward to,” said Ms Buckingham.

The Festival continues on the streets of downtown Queenstown and Coronet Peak and The Remarkables Ski Areas until Sunday 25 June 2017 at 9pm.


The list of the Real Journey’s Thank You Cruise nominees can be found here.

Downloadable hi res images for media are available here; 
Day 1: Thursday 22 June 2017
Day 2: Friday 23 June 2017
Day 3: Saturday 24 June 2017
Day 4: Sunday 25 June 2017

Public galleries with more downloadable hi res images for each event are here.

Fresh images will be uploaded hourly from 22 – 27 June 2017. Please check the metadata for detailed captions, photographer credits and waiver confirmation. Email [email protected] if any further information is required.

Raw video footage is available for the 2017 Dog Derby. Email [email protected] to request a Dropbox folder share.

Contact: Simone Flight
Media Relations Manager
Tel: 021 1656 218
[email protected]

The Queenstown Winter Festival celebrates the start of winter as only Queenstown can. From 22-25 June 2017 from lake front to mountain top Queenstown brims with locals and visitors, street parties, music, comedy, family fun and wintery themed madness. Visit and sign up to the Friends of Festival mailing list and follow the Festival on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.