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November, 2017

Fifty years ago this month, a bold new tourism venture began operating
that would eventually become an iconic Queenstown visitor destination.
On Friday 17 November 1967, eight brightly-coloured Skyline
Queenstown gondola cabins began ascending the cableway to Bobs Peak
and the then-Skyline Chalet, 450m above Queenstown.
Almost 1200 people rode New Zealands first gondola that day, to view
the now-world-famous vista of The Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu and
Queenstown below.
Fast-forward to 2017, and Skyline Queenstowns gondola has been
ridden 17 million times, the cableway itself has completed more than
two million laps and 52% of all visitors to Queenstown board the
Skyline is preparing to upgrade its existing 30-year-old fleet of gondola
cars with a state-of-the-art 10-seat gondola, brand new cableway, new
base terminal and expansion of the Gondola complex, expected to open
in 2020.
Skylines history is both humble and ambitious  a story of real No. 8
Wire Kiwi ingenuity. In 1966 founding pioneers Hylton Hensman, Jon
Dumble and Cliff Broad decided to create better public access to the
newly-built Skyline Chalet by constructing an aerial gondola up Bobs
The road to opening day was long and not without challenges: Hylton
single-handedly chopped down many of the pine trees to make way for
the towers, there were major issues importing the gondola equipment
from overseas and battles with the Queenstown Borough Council and
Government were protracted and difficult.
Once open, however, it didnt take long for the attraction to prove its
worth and visitor numbers grew year on year. Skyline Queenstown has
hosted famous faces over the years including Kiwi mountaineering
legend Sir Edmund Hillary in 1969, former United States President Bill
Clinton in 1999, and in recent years, visiting music superstars like Ed
Sheeran and UB40.
Hensman, who also founded Skylines world-famous Luge 30 years ago,
resigned as Skyline Enterprises chairman in 1976. He was replaced by
Barry Thomas, who helped take the company to new heights  including
expanding into global markets and diversifying into other tourism and
property businesses.
Hensmans son Grant, a current director of the board, attributes
Skylines success to its dedicated staff over the past 50 years and a
mutual commitment to new technology and innovation.
The company owes a great deal, not just to the founders and the
directors, but also to management and staff. The improvement of our
products over the years is very much a collective effort and I would
certainly like to acknowledge that, Grant says.
Skylines milestone has been recognised by Tourism New Zealand and
Tourism Industry Aotearoa.
TNZ chief executive Stephen England-Hall says: As we congratulate
Skyline Queenstown on providing world-class adventure for 50 years, we
welcome the companys ambitious expansion plans that will include one
of the worlds most advanced gondolas, ensuring visitors continue to
enjoy an exceptional and exhilarating experience long into the future.
TIA chief executive Chris Roberts says: Fifty years and still leading the
way in providing world-class visitor experiences, continually updating its
product offerings and not being content to rest on its laurels  what a
fantastic achievement. Congratulations Skyline Queenstown. You are an
inspirational example to New Zealands tourism industry.
On November 18, 9am-6pm, Skyline will be hosting a Fifty Years of Fun
locals day. All Queenstown residents who supply proof of address are
entitled to half-price gondola and Luge packages. There will also be an
impressive display of Skyline memorabilia from the past 50 years, as
well as $1 birthday cake created by Skylines in-house pastry team.
For the entire month of November, locals can purchase a Gondola
Annual Pass card at half price at $39.50 per adult, $29.50 per senior or
child. Gondola Annual Pass cards entitle the holder to unlimited free
gondola rides all year round, as well as exclusive discounts on all Skyline
activities, products and restaurants.


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