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Snow bunnies down under: New Zealand's gay ski week hopes to draw the ladies.

It is a lady's fanfare, with wife and wife team, Sally and Mandy Whitewoods, set to launch Queenstown's pride event--Gay Ski Week. The week of events lures the worldwide LGBT community to the pristine New Zealand ski town with promises of glitter on and off the ski slopes.

The couple rescued Gay Ski Week in 2011, after previous owners let it almost fall into receivership. Keeping the brand name was purely a business decision says Sally.

"It was just easier to get it back up and going when people already knew what it was."

Neither of the Whitewoods appears to shy away from hard work. The couple, who became first-time moms two years ago, also run one of Queenstown's busiest backpackers' lodges, Aspen Lodge Backpackers, and are rebuilding Gay Ski Week.

The Whitewoods, originally from the UK, ended up in Queenstown after Mandy told Sally she wasn't ever living in England again.

"She was traveling and doing her thing, and every few years we would meet up," says Sally.

"Then she just said, 'I'm not ever living here again," and I thought, 'Right, well I can live in New Zealand for a while.'"

The couple married in 2009 and show no signs of packing up to move back to England. They have become the driving force behind the Southern Hemisphere's largest Winter Pride event, and last year the week had a record number of queer women attend.

"So last year, we had 20 percent females, and we hope that [figure] will increase again," says Sally.

The itinerary boasts international artists, such as Sydney DJ Kate Monroe and Melbourne DJ Haylenise. But to really indulge the queer women crowd, this year they have incorporated an exclusive ladies night event.

"Our female event is on Sunday August 31. Gaydar Girls, which is a dinner and music evening, will feature Tori Reed, a New Zealand contemporary folk singer and songwriter. Being a Queenstown local, and hometown favorite, she will most certainly draw the queer 'kiwi' crowd."

The following Tuesday, Anika Moa, a kiwi lesbian singer-songwriter also has a gig, which Sally identified as another drawcard for the lady queers in town.

The entire week is set in New Zealand's adventure capital, which boasts some of the world's best ski fields, trendy bars, possibly the world's best burger (Frugburger) and more adventure sports than any adrenaline junkie can handle.

The week kicks off on Saturday August 30 and runs until Saturday, September 6. (gayskiweekqt.com)

BY AMANDA PARKINSON--FAIRFAX NZ

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Author:Parkinson, Amanda
Publication:Curve
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Jun 1, 2014
Words:426
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