A Gay Ski Week With a Kiwi Twist

The organizers of the upcoming Gay Ski Week New Zealand (Aug. 29-Sept. 6) roll out the kiwi carpet to skiers and non-skiers around the world, starting with Advocate.com's own Dennis Hensley.

BY Dennis Hensley

July 15 2009 12:00 AM ET

When it comes to end-of-summer getaways, a big gay ski trip is probably not at the top of your must-do list, particularly if you live in the United States, where summer's all about sun and sand, pride fests, and P-town. For a cool alternative with a sexy accent, I present for your consideration Gay Ski Week New Zealand, nine days of powder and parties, slopes and gropes, headquartered in the "adventure capital of the world" Queenstown.

I recently touched down in Queenstown -- after three action-packed days in Auckland -- to get a sneak peek of the 7th annual Gay Ski Week NZ, which takes place from August 28 to September 6. I stayed at the event's host hotel, the casually sophisticated Novotel Queenstown Lakeside , pampered myself with a rubdown at Aspects Day Spa and a mountainside soak at the Onsen Hot Pools , and sampled local eateries like Tatler , Fergberger , and the gay-owned Fishbone Bar and Grill .

But the highlight of my trip was meeting Gay Ski Week NZ's amiable and enthusiastic organizers, real-life couple Mike Sanford and Craig Lawson. The following Q&A took place in various locales around town, like the chic two-story nightclub 12Bar , which hosts regular gay nights, the locals'-fave coffee shop Joe's Garage , and the cozy and historic Bathhouse restaurant on beautiful Lake Wakatipu.

Advocate.com:I come all the way to New Zealand and you take me to a bathhouse! Mike Sanford: This is the famous Bathhouse restaurant, one of the leading restaurants in Queenstown, and a popular hangout during Gay Ski Week. Craig Lawson: You should also try the Lone Star , where we're having our cowboy-themed dinner during Ski Week. Awesome ribs, fantastic atmosphere. Bring your cowboy hat!

Maybe Shania Twain will show up. I hear she has property in the area. Lawson: She does. You never know, Shania might pop up. Everyone's welcome at Gay Ski Week NZ.

How many people usually attend the event? Lawson: Last year we had about 600 people attend and this year we're looking at about 700. About a third of our attendees have come before. A good two thirds are from Australia and New Zealand. We get a small amount of Americans, but we want more!

Tags: Travel

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