“When I got the call I couldn’t believe it. I was on location doing a photo shoot and I ran around whooping and high fiving. My hand still hurts, but in a good way.”
That’s how mountain biker and photographer, Mike Kennedy, from Dee Why on the northern beaches of Sydney, reacted to the news he’d won return air fares for two to Rotorua for the city’s Bike Festival in February.
He’s visited Rotorua before. The first time was in 2012 and he was back in October, this year, with 2 Wheel Tours.
“Let’s just say I fell in love with the Whakarewarewa, all over again,” he said. “It’s my 48th birthday in a few days, so what a great time to win another trip to mountain bike paradise.”
He will be bringing his brother, Paul, on the trip.
“I’m really stoked to be able to share this experience with him,” continued Mike. “He’s always wanted to go, but with two small boys the dream has eluded him until now.”
The brothers have been mountain biking since the 1990s and Paul is the trail builder at Thredbo Mountain Bike Park.
“I’m really looking forward to showing him the amazing network of trails in the Whaka and watching his brain explode with happiness,” added Mike. “And also getting him into the Skyline Rotorua Gravity Bike Park…it’s so much fun.”
The Gunna Gotta Go competition is named after a popular trail in the Whakarewarewa Forest.
It is a collaboration between Flow Mountain Bike, Rotorua Airport and the Rotorua Bike Festival.
A whole range of Rotorua tourism destinations will also be hosting Michael and Paul and the total value of the prize is $7500.
A similar competition for the 2014 Festival was just as successful. The winner, Mitch Ho, described the win as the best Christmas present ever and, with fiancée, Jessica Behan, had a memorable time.
“The trip was awesome, everyone was very friendly and the mountain biking was a whole lot of fun,” he said. “Congratulations to Mike, you won’t be disappointed – this is the adventure of a lifetime.”
Anna Rodgers from Rotorua Airport is thrilled with the entry numbers in the competitions and the enthusiasm of the winners.
“It’s great making that phone call,” she said. “You make someone’s day and no one is ever disappointed by winning something. Mike was no exception. He knew straight away why I was calling and was super excited to have won this dream MTB package.”
The numbers of Australian mountain bikers visiting Rotorua has risen dramatically over the last few years.
“The festival gives them yet another reason to visit Rotorua and helps convert people from ‘we’ll go one day’ to ‘let’s go now’ travellers,” she added. “The huge MTB community in Australia love that they can arrive in Rotorua and be out riding the trails within an hour of landing, maximizing their holiday time.”
The trip isn’t all mountain biking. Visits to Multi Day Adventures Te Puia, Mountain Bike Rotorua, OGO, Agroventures Adventure Park, Skyline Gravity Park, Off Road NZ, spa treatments at Polynesian Spa after a day on the trails, merchandise from Nzo, hospitality by Capers Epicurean and the Pig and Whistle, accommodation by Millennium Hotel Rotorua and a vehicle to get around in from Thrifty Rentals make it the perfect Rotorua experience.
“Thanks to all those sponsors for making this this amazing trip possible,” said Kennedy, as he headed out to celebrate his big win. “Paul and I can’t wait.”