Nearly running out of petrol on State Highway 23 proved fortuitous for a Tauranga family, when they became the 15 millionth luge riders at Rotorua's Skyline attraction.
Father Mike Moroney, 7-year-old Michael Moroney and mum Jackie Roberts have won a trip to Queenstown as a result of hitting the milestone, along with a basket of goodies that includes personalised luge helmets, Volcanic Hills wine and more. The family recently moved to Tauranga from Christchurch.
Ms Roberts said the family nearly didn't make it to Rotorua for the school holiday day trip, after belatedly realising they didn't have enough petrol to make it across the Tauranga Direct Rd.
"At Pyes Pa we suddenly realised that we might get a bit stuck so we actually drove back to Greerton to get petrol. If we hadn't done that, we wouldn't have made the milestone!"
Skyline general manager, Bruce Thomasen, said the company was thrilled to celebrate the 15 million luge ride yesterday.
"This is a massive milestone for us as an organisation, but also for all our staff and the wider Rotorua community.
"Not only are we a key physical landmark at the top of Mt Ngongotaha in Rotorua, we are also a significant contributor to the local economy.
"We now host more than 420,000 visitors every year, with a large proportion of those being domestic or international visitors who inevitably end up spending money in restaurants, cafes, shops or other attractions in and around Rotorua.
"We are proud to be a big part of this community and to play our role in its growth and development."
Skyline Rotorua's luge operation was the first in the world when it opened on March 9, 1985. Skyline Enterprises now has luge operations in Queenstown, Singapore and Canada.
Planning is also underway for a new operation in South Korea.
Mr Thomasen said the luge tracks had changed extensively since the operation first opened, but the heart of it remained the same - having fun. "More than 750,000 luge rides are taken in Rotorua every year - with visitors usually riding more than once."
Rotorua locals and visitors have the opportunity to participate in the celebrations, with two photo competitions running at Skyline until Sunday May 5. Winning entries are in the running for annual Gondola passes and dinner vouchers.
More information about the competitions and other promotions to celebrate the luge milestone can be found at www.skyline.co.nz/rotorua.