Farmers and their canine companions made a mad dash down slippery slopes in an annual dog derby that ski area boss Nigel Kerr says is "integral" to Queenstown's Coronet Peak.

A large crowd of revellers gathered at the ski area base building to cheer on about 65 competitors and their dogs in two separate races on Saturday.

NZSki, which owns Coronet Peak, decided to hold the event after the dog derby usually hosted at the skifield moved to Cardrona Alpine Resort as part of the Queenstown Winter Festival, in June.

Mr Kerr, who also competed in the derby with his dog Oscar, said the event had a "really good turnout", despite it only being advertised a couple of weeks ago.

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He said public support for the event showed how important it was to continue holding it at the skifield.

"It's irrelevant to the Winter Festival. It is just about having an event that is the running of the dogs. It's the 44th event."

About 90 entrants signed up to race in the first Queenstown Winter Festival Dog Derby to be held at Cardrona.

Before the Winter Festival event moved to the rival skifield, owned by Real Journeys, there were more than 100 competitors in the "country" category alone when it was held at Coronet Peak last year.

The Speight's Coronet Peak Dog Derby started with the "townie" category of owners and their dogs, who came crashing downhill from the top of the Meadows Express chairlift.
First to cross the line and take home the $500 prize was Russ Wilson, of Queenstown, and his dog Ted.

Next up were competitors in the "country" category, who slid and tumbled their way down the skifield, starting from the ice bar, and collided in a chaotic finish at the bottom of the slope.

Whistles came from all directions when the owners had to call their dogs to cross the finish line.

First time entrant and race-winner Mathew Podjursky dashed across the finish line with his dog Abbo.

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He said he was "just here for a good time" and did not expect to win the $750 prize.

"I'm from the North Island so we don't really have much snow up there.

"It was a bit slippery eh, I wasn't expecting it to be so slippery."

Runner-up Kelly Smith said it was "carnage down the bottom" of the slope and she was totally surprised to achieve a podium finish with her dog Missy. After the prize-giving, a dog-barking competition attended by a large crowd took place in the town centre.

Mr Kerr said he was looking forward to Coronet Peak hosting its own dog derby again next year.