Queenstown goes barking mad for Winter Festival

The tourist hotspot of Queenstown has gone to the dogs on Thursday, with mayhem ruling through the opening of this year's Winter Festival.

Pooches from across the South Island gathered for the 43rd annual Dog Derby, the longest-running event of the festival, racing down Coronet Peak.

WinterFest organiser Lisa Buckingham told Newshub the madness saw dozens of dogs from both town and the country competing.

"A lot of the country farmers turn up with their huntaways, but then we get all sorts of townies and you would not believe the different ones," she said.

"There's tiny little pooches, we even had a St Bernard up there, it really is a bit of everything."

The townie champion this year was Brad and his pup Cliff, from Queenstown, after the duo came second place last year.

Jacob and Rev from Blackmount took out the country division.

Things also got a bit noisy with the pups competing for the best barker.

To make things more interesting, if a dog didn't bark on command, their owner had to get up and bark for them.

"It's often the townies that have the naughtier dogs that aren't quite as well behaved," Ms Buckingham said, estimating around one in four of the owners had to sub in for their pets.

The Queenstown Winter Festival ends on Sunday.