In "an era of climate change", NZSki has been given approval
in principle to substantially boost its artificial
In July the Otago Daily Times reported NZSki was
planning a multimillion-dollar development of the skifield,
the largest in its 26-year history, and the Department of
Conservation has since released a report before the final
decision is made by Otago Conservator Alan McKenzie.
The report said that the skifield had 70 snow-making
machines, which would be boosted to up to 125 machines,
increasing snow coverage from 14ha to 36ha once upgrades to
the area's trail networks were completed over the next five
Because natural snowfall was variable, increasing the number
of snow-making machines was "an immediate imperative" to make
possible a concrete predetermined opening date each June.
"Greater certainty of opening would allow the ski area to
command more pre-bookings for the early winter, a time of
high set-up costs and uncertain patronage.
"This benefit was evidenced in the 2012 winter, when
artificial snow allowed a limited opening of the ski area
prior to any significant natural snowfall," the report said.
To operate the snow machines, up to 400,000cu m of water
would be required and it is proposed the water come from the
Rastus Burn via the current pumping house and directly from
The maximum drawdown from the lake would rise to 57cm from
the current 15cm.
If the limit was reached, snow-making would be suspended
until the stream and lake were naturally replenished.
Under the current allowance Lake Alta was drawn down to the
maximum by late June and was not fully restored until the end
of August, but under the new concession it would not be
restored until late October.
Also proposed is a new chairlift for an area known as "Curvy
Basin", a realignment of the skifield's access road to make
it safer, a redevelopment of the learners' area and a new car
park on land not covered by the current lease.
Public submissions on the report close on November 30, after
which a decision would be made as to whether a hearing was
NZSki chief executive James Coddington said commercial
decisions, such as what type of snow-making machines would be
used, had not been made yet and would only be made once Doc
had granted consents.