Before the days of health and safety and helicopter parents, there was the Coronet Peak Cresta Run.
The alpine slide held legendary status as a ‘‘rite of passage’’, tossing thrillseekers from the track, grinning from ear to ear as they raced back to do it again.
The track closed at Coronet Peak decades ago, but has found a new life in Naseby.
Queenstown resident Tonnie Spijkerbosch acquired the abandoned track and, with wife Erna and additional funding from David and Jennie Proctor, gave the track to Naseby about 2015.
Fundraising ensued, and the community raised more than $85,000.
Construction of the luge started in 2019, a team of volunteers supplying the labour as well as tractors, chainsaws, spades and shovels to dig in and see the pipe dream become reality.
The summer luge — officially named the Goldrush Luge — complements the Naseby Ice Luge, the only ice luge in the southern hemisphere, which sees 500 sledders take to the track each year.
The Goldrush Luge was officially opened on Saturday by Tonnie Spijkerbosch’s son Uan and Mr Proctor, in conjunction with the inauguration of the Maniototo Adventure Park, marking the official merger of Naseby Ice Rink, Naseby Curling Rink and Naseby Ice Luge into a single governance and operation structure.
About 70 people gathered for the opening, including members of the Spijkerbosch and Proctor families and the wider Maniototo community.
Uan Spijkerbosch recalled being the last paying customer to embark on the ‘‘thrilling adventure’’ of coming down that track at Coronet Peak.
‘‘Back then the track was less a ride and more a rite of passage — health and safety were yet-to-be-invented concepts and flirtation with danger was the order of the day,’’ he said.
At the time, his father’s decision to collect the discarded track left him and his brother ‘‘baffled’’, but his father had an ‘‘extraordinary knack for breathing new life into discarded items’’, Mr Spijkerbosch said.
‘‘Seeing his vision for this abandoned track become reality is bittersweet, and it is an honour and poignant tribute to have his name eternally tied to something that will bring joy and fun filled memories for generations to come — as you ride, remember to grin in the face of danger.’’
Tonnie Spijkerbosch died this year, but last year had a test run on the three quarters of the track that was completed.
‘‘Watching a78-year-old man grin like a 10-year-old boy, his vision finally taking reality, was a sight to behold and an absolutely joy,’’ Mr Spijkerbosch said.
Following the opening, members of the Spijkerbosch and Proctor families were the first to ride the officially opened track — a much more subdued ride compared to the track’s former life.
The crowd then marked the inauguration of the Maniototo Adventure Park.
The ice rink, curling rink and ice luge had had been operating independently since the ice rink opened in 1992, but it was recognised there was operational efficiency in having them all together, Maniototo Adventure Park Charitable Trust chairman Dave Brady said.
‘‘We’ve been working in the background for a few years identifying that there is some opportunities for operational efficiency to bring them together — the entities were established individually for their own purposes and we’ve been working to ensure that we protect the uniqueness of each of the experiences, and recognise all the work and all the voluntary labour that has gone on in the past,’’ he said.
It was a ‘‘fantastic relief’’ to finally have the fixtures all in one organisation, and to have the addition of the Goldrush Luge, Mr Brady said.
There was still more work to do, but seeing everyone celebrating the new ride and the hard work people put in was a great way to celebrate, he said.
‘‘That is what makes Naseby, Naseby — it’s a real community here.’’