Timing in Life is Everything

September 17th, 2014

You’ve probably heard this statement at one point in your life or another.  Typically – or at least in our experience – it’s stated just after a missed opportunity, when it feels more like salt in the wound, and probably pretty unappreciated at that point.  It’s all well and good that said paremiologist (someone who studies proverbs: Thanks ‘Google’) is just trying to remind you about one of life’s greatest lessons, but what exactly are we expected to learn from this simple statement of fact?

In our collective opinion, probably nothing.  The only real way any ‘lesson’ can be learned is if there was a specific time you were meant to be somewhere, and inevitably you weren’t.  However, that would allude more to you being an unpunctual shite, rather than someone on the receiving end of a universal ass-kicking as such.  So maybe get on that.

There are however, certain situations in which you CAN increase your chances of not suffering through a timing mishap.  From a Queenstown perspective, we get asked all the time (seriously, ALL the time) when is the best time to come for this, that, and the other.  Each situation is different, but in this instance we’ll concentrate specifically on the one we’re asked most about, which is “when should I come to Queenstown for work/houses/general living?”.

The answer is:  before the peak-season, and this goes for bother Summer and Winter.  When is peak-season?  Generally speaking, peak-season Summer is normally between mid-December and Easter, whilst peak-season Winter is normally between Winterfest (20th-ish of June) to end of August.  And when we say ‘before’, we don’t mean by a couple of days, we mean by a solid 4 – 6 weeks at least.  Each season, just before it really kicks-off in town, comes the rush of all the wannabe seasonaires, all freaking out about their inability to find work or a house, frantically printing of resume’s and complaining about how “everything in the Lakes Weekly Bulletin (QT bible) is taken!  This is *expletive*!”.  And the reason they’re doing that?  Because YOU were smart enough to get here earlier, and get that job/house/car that they really wanted.

But that’s not to say you’re going to walk straight into your chosen profession, with a fully-furnished room downtown for less than $120 a week just because you got here early.  Oh no.  What you need to do is come here with an open mind, and enough cash to last you a couple of months in a hostel + bond/letting fee for new house + car + season pass (if Winter is your bag) etc. etc.  That way, when you do finally get a job you’re not just living pay-check to pay-check, and you can actually afford to enjoy Queenstown in it’s entirety.  It’s also to avoid the doldrums of not finding work, as unfortunately it’s this same time of year that employers will hold off hiring staff for as long as they can to keep operating costs low.  But if you’re here with your foot in the door earlier than 90% of the other seasonaires, you’ve already increased your chances by 90%.

So timing in life IS everything, and you can increase your odds, but maybe in this instance “the early bird catches the worm” and “beggars can’t be choosers” work just as aptly in this case.   So do yourself a favour – get here early, get your foot in the door, and don’t expect to be handed everything on a silver platter – because timing in life is everything…

 

Mother Nature: The Most Unpredictable Mature Woman Ever…

August 29th, 2014

She’s an erratic and unreliable entity at the best of times, and you’d be wise to remain cautious even when everything looks calm on the horizon.  Or at least that’s how we do things in New Zealand.  We’d like to say there’s at least 1 season in our spectrum that is easy and gives us some vague concept of monotony in the weather-stakes, but that just isn’t the case.  Summer chops and changes, with long, warm, beach-side days, swiftly followed by arctic breezes, driving rain, and the notion that maybe somehow Autumn has arrived already.  And don’t even get us started on the Spring bastard.

However Winter is by far the strangest of beasts, which isn’t ideal when everyone is here specifically for the weather (or in actual fact the snow that it brings/doesn’t bring).  We often get enquiries prior to the season from guests wanting to ascertain the best time of Winter to come for skiing/boarding/general razzery, but we’d be withholding the truth if we didn’t have to follow up our suggestion with the fact that our crystal ball is more than a little cloudy.

Don’t get us wrong, every Winter season in the world is subject to a lean one every now and then, but there’s a significant difference between a lean season in say Banff, Canada, and little ol’ us down here in NZ’s South Island.  In saying that, every Winter season in the world also has the potential to bring swathes of the white and fluffy stuff, with bluebird powder days on the regular and down days few and far between.  Unfortunately though, it doesn’t matter how good the technology gets in the department of meteorology, because we’re all – especially here – subject to the moods and subsequent wrath of Mother Nature and her merry band of weather conditions.

Take this season for example – during Winterfest (what is meant to be the official start of Winter), things were looking a little brown.  This isn’t the first time by the way, and it won’t be the last, which really only highlights the fact that Winterfest is simply too early in the season, rather than it being an indication of a less-than-stellar season.  But either way, it was a lean start to the season, which of course starts the grumblings from both the tourists and the locals.  This lean-ness continued for quite a while, until in August (the latter part of which we typically tout as the best time to come by the way) Winter turned itself on in a big way.  A big, BIG way by New Zealand standards, with a 2 week period of 20-30cm dumps, taking the base snow-level at The Remarkables from a decidedly meagre 50cm average to a stratospheric (for us) 17ocm average.  Face shots were plentiful, high-fives were handed around in spades, and all-in-all everyone’s ‘stoke’ levels were peaking.

Now, we know what you’re saying – Australia started the season so much better, blah blah blah blah.  Of course there’s always competition between the 2 countries for the Southern Hemisphere snow crown (Chile doesn’t get included – it’s too far away :P).  But anyone who knows anything knows that Australia’s seasons is as unpredictable as ours, and it just happens to be that this season was their season.  Next year it might be ours, and who knows thereafter.  All we know is, at the end of day the major difference between the Australian Ski-fields and Queenstown, is that if the weather doesn’t play ball and you’re suffering through a lot of down days, at least here there is a whole lot more to fill your day with.  We are the adventure capital of the Southern Hemisphere, not to mention the fact that our night-life and culinary options are plentiful and varied, which means that you can still have the time of your life even when the weather isn’t playing ball.  Top that off with the fact that everything is cheaper, the exchange rate is typically favourable, and let’s face it, our views are better, suddenly the flight over doesn’t look like such a burden.

So don’t expect too much, and don’t lose faith either – just remember, you simply can’t trust Mother Nature.  Insufferable b*#@h.

 

KIDDING!!!

The Trouble of Maintaining Relationships in a Resort Town

August 18th, 2014

To most outsiders living in a resort town must seem like an idyllic existence. After all, your home is a vacation destination for millions. People from all over the world spend their hard earned money for the privilege of visiting and spending time in a place that you already call home. When looked at from another angle – from the perspective of the permanent residents of these towns – things take on a more skewed perspective. Many year round Queenstown residents see the millions of tourists who pass through their town as “day-walkers” or, to put it in less flattering terms, “cash-cows.” They also tend to see the seasonal staff that fill in the temporary jobs during the height of the tourist season as “seasonaries” – i.e. people with temporary jobs, temporary cars, temporary homes and even temporary phones.

So far this is nothing out of the ordinary for resort towns all across the world. What causes problems among the permanent community, however, is forming relationships with these temporary visitors. It could be a weekend fling with a backpacker passing through, or it could be a torrid month long affair with a guest worker who is only there for the summer. While relationships are nice – forming these connections and then saying goodbye at the end of the week/month/season over and over again is not. Sadly this is a reality for many full time residents in vacation communities. Forming long lasting relationships or friendships with outsiders/guests/visitors is simply not an option due to the seasonal nature of the community.

This cycle of seasonal relationship followed by breakup changes people. For some, it hardens their hearts to outsiders. They’ll be happy to serve them, work with them and earn a living off them, but they draw a line in the sand when it comes to forming any real connection. They’ve been burned too many times before to go down that path once again. This is problematic because it denies the lifelong resident what could otherwise be meaningful and mutually rewarding relationships with people from all over the world and all walks of life. They essentially become the “insular, unfriendly local” stereotype.

On the other hand, some year-long residents believe that it does not matter how long a person stays in their community. They simply accept fleeting relationships and brief friendships as par for the course. These folks tend to focus more on the people they meet and experiences they have rather than the time they spend with them. This is the healthier option when it comes to relationships, friendships or even basic human interactions in a resort city like Queenstown. Humans are inherently social creatures, and will always want to be with their fellow man or woman – even if for a limited amount of time. Whether having a 5 minute chat over coffee with a perfect stranger or falling in love with someone who may not be here when the season changes, we all need that human touch.

In spite of the difficulty of finding something permanent with the huge numbers of people who pass through their shores, people in resort towns and vacation hotspots all over the world should count themselves lucky – not just for the beautiful place they call home, but also for the opportunity to be exposed to a lifetime experiences in their own back yards.

Challenges of Bringing the Blues Festival to Queenstown

July 27th, 2014

While Queenstown is not a complete backwater when it comes to live music, it lags behind cities like Christchurch, Dunedin and Auckland. Sure, there are several Queenstown venues where one can go to see live bands play – places like The Find, Vinyl Underground and are local favourites – but when it comes to large music festivals, pickings are slim. The reason? Simple economics. Festival organisers are always under the gun to put on a show that brings in the punters. This is not a problem for larger cities like Christchurch or Auckland where a good turn-out is almost guaranteed, but for smaller cities with a lower population like Queenstown, this becomes an insurmountable challenge. Organisers simply cannot justify paying top Dollar to bring world famous artists from half way across the world if the audience simply isn’t there to justify the cost and effort.

There’s no point complaining about Queenstown not having its own Woodstock or Glastonbury. Unless you’re in close proximity to a major metropolitan area like New York or London, your neck of the woods simply lacks the critical mass of humanity, the sheer number of people needed to make the event a success. Music may be a part of the soul, but the business of bringing music to the masses is unfortunately rooted in more down to earth things like money and logistics.

So is there any hope of bringing a music festival to Queenstown? Let’s look at the demographics: Queenstown is the biggest tourist hub of the South Island with a yearly population that varies between 20 and 60 thousand people. That sounds great on paper, but the fact is that the real population of Queenstown tops out around twelve thousand permanent residents, with the rest being made up of seasonal tourists and workers. But, one might argue, what about the other towns in the Queenstown-Lakes District? What of the people in Arrowtown, Wanaka, Cromwell, Alexandra, Clyde and so on? The problem here is that a lot of these townships are a good hour or more drive from Queenstown, and it’s difficult for festival organisers to guarantee a record turnout when most of the attendees will have to drive an hour or more and pay for accommodation on top of ticket prices and the food and beverage.

Despite all the doom and gloom, live music fans in Queenstown should not despair. There are several avenues where Queenstown can still have large music festival style open-air concerts without running afoul of all the problems discussed above. Annual established festivals like Winterfest already brings in 45,000 people. Why not include major Kiwi and international artists as part of the opening ceremony? With such high attendance figures, surely the organisers could find an economic incentive to incorporate a couple large scale concerts into the ongoing festivities?

Putting on a major show in an area with the population density of Queenstown is difficult, but not impossible. With tens of thousands of visitors streaming in every year, it is entirely feasible to include a couple of concerts into the annual tourist calendar. The only thing preventing this from happening is not a lack of passionate fans who want to see their favourite musical acts, but a lack of foresight and vision in the powers that be that organise these events.