Ice Skating in the Southern Lakes and Queenstown
Ice skating has been a popular winter pastime in the Southern Lakes region since early European migrants settled in the region in the 19th century. Scottish farmers likely played a large role in intiating skating and curling games on the frozen tarns and natural dams that formed during the cold winter months. The picture above, taken circa 1900, shows local children skating on the pond in the Queenstown Gardens (near the present ice arena.) The pond occasionally freezes over sufficiently to allow ice skating though it has not done so since 2007.
By 1966 the first artificial ice surface was laid down in roughly the same spot as the current arena. The rink was incredibly popular with locals and winter tourists alike. Over 2,000 people attended the grand opening and early ice hockey matches between Arrowtown and Queenstown drew such large numbers that the roar from the crowd could be heard in Fernhill!
This rink served the needs of the community and planted the seeds for the formation of the Queenstown Ice Hockey Club (QIHC) and the Queenstown Ice Skating Club (QISC). Unfortunately, by 1995 financial difficulties resulted in the closure of the outdoor rink.
By 1996 Tahitian investors led by Christophe Huck and local Firdaus Siddick finished work on the Queenstown Ice Arena as it stands today, a fully enclosed ice arena! In 2010 the Graham family purchased the arena and began an extensive program of rennovations which are planned to continue for the foreseeable future.