They came wearing crazy costumes and some came wearing practically nothing at all, but they were all there to be part of a celebration to kick-start the ski season in Queenstown.

More than 50,000 visitors - many from Australia - packed the South Island resort town for the 10-day annual festival that started last Friday.

Yesterday, hardy skiers and snow boarders took part in a race to the summit.

There were plenty of thrills and spills in the mountain bikes on snow competition.


Semi-naked men and women participants turned heads at the "Undie 500" event, where competitors raced up and down the beach in Queenstown Bay.

Crazy costumes were the highlight of the Birdman competition, which featured everything from pole dancers to cardboard rally cars.

The event was won by a team of Wiggles driving a tank, while reigning champions "The Orange Men" took the best individual entry.

"These events always draw a big crowd and today our competitors put on some priceless entertainment," said festival director Simon Green.

Despite the crowd, only 13 arrests were made during the festival opening, which Queenstown police said was a "good number".

Alcohol-related offending was the biggest problem, Sergeant Mark Gill said.