Queenstown Winter Festival: Undy 500 contestants brave the cold

More than 100 people braved the freezing waters of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown on Saturday afternoon, as part of the Winter Festival. 

Hardy competitors wearing very little hit the beach for a series of Undy 500 chilly challenges. 

Despite temperatures topping out at 6degC on land, a daring bunch of athletes were keen to strip off to tackle the Undy 500 race along Queenstown's waterfront.

"Once you get going it's alright," said women's Undy 500 champion Jasmine Simpson. 

Defending men's champion Alex Radley was back from Auckland for another crack, enjoying the slopes during his visit.

"Been up ski touring the back of The Remarkables [ski area] the last couple of days, so enjoying what Queenstown's got to offer," he told Newshub. 

Many of his rivals were overseas visitors, all relishing the cheeky challenge, including a slippery bouncy castle.

Queenstown councillor Craig Ferguson said welcoming visitors to the city for the Winter Festival was important. 

"A big part of our life is welcoming in visitors, and that's what Winter Festival does - signalling to the rest of the country and to other parts of the world that we're open for winter."

Six teams hit the water for a raft-based version of ripper rugby. The winning team, "Luke's Ark", credited their "intimidating" costumes for the win.

Costumes were also a big part of the popular "Birdman" contest - teams performing a routine on the pier before leaping into the frigid bay.

Fun was the order of the day, with festival action moving back to the mountains on Sunday.