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Legend Gurney left out in cold

ANNA TURNER 06:17, Aug 04 2013

LESS STRESS: Adventure racing guru Steve Gurney taps away on his laptop in the cramped confines of his new home - a caravan in Queenstown's Frankton Motor Camp.
LESS STRESS: Adventure racing guru Steve Gurney taps away on his laptop in the cramped confines of his new home - a caravan in Queenstown's Frankton Motor Camp.

Kiwi adventure-sport legend and quake refugee Steve Gurney is "living like a student" in a caravan park in Queenstown.

The nine-times Coast to Coast winner has fled Christchurch after becoming "overwhelmed" by the stress of dealing with his quake-damaged house.

"I needed to get out of the stress zone. So I've moved to Queenstown to get away."

Gurney's Redcliffs home was red-zoned after the February 2011 earthquake and for the past two-and-a-half years he has been struggling to settle with his insurance company.

There were issues over the land-zoning and Gurney has already lost $20,000 in legal fees.

"That's money I won't recover but it was needed to get what's mine.

"I've got no land and no property and all my money is tied up in the claim.

"It's bloody stressful and I've just had enough."

Until going to Queenstown, he'd been living in a caravan on his sister's land in Rangiora.

"There's only so much stress you can take before it becomes unhealthy and it was reaching that point.

"So, I've left. I'm still living in a caravan but at least in Queenstown I've got something nice to look at and I'm slightly further away from the situation."

Since moving, Gurney said his stress levels had reduced.

"I've loved moving to Queenstown. I actually can't believe I didn't do it years ago.

"I'm very happy living in an adventure playground where there's easy access to the mountains and wilderness.

"Most importantly, the people are awesomely friendly and I have heaps of friends here."

He's been busy integrating himself into the Queenstown lifestyle.

At the Queenstown Winter Festival, Gurney made a splash as he took out the birdman contest, squeezed in a dash in the Jelly Belly Undie 500 and took on the mountain bike mayhem and suitcase race at Coronet Peak.

But while he was enjoying the town, Gurney was not completely happy with his caravan spot.

"It's pretty cold and takes a lot to keep warm.

"My stuff is still in storage containers on the side of the road near my broken house. I only have essentials with me here. It's still a bit of a mess."

Gurney's Redcliffs home is subject to an emergency demolition order and he said he was sad to see it go.

"I've been living there nearly 30 years. It was perfect - right near the beach so I could go kayaking, running and walking.

"It's a very special area to me but it's become stressful," he said.

Since retiring from competitive professional sport, Gurney has worked as a motivational speaker and "expert team builder".

He said most audiences wanted to hear how he recovered from a severe and life-threatening illness - he contracted leptospirosis in the jungles of Borneo - to keep winning in his sport.

Queenstown was the "ideal conference location" from which to base his business.

"I can't 100 per cent say I'm going to live in Queenstown permanently but it's looking pretty good at the moment," he said.

"What I really want is to be able to move on with my life. I need some answers."

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