Big plans for Remarkables

James Coddington.
James Coddington.
A multimillion-dollar development proposed for the Remarkables ski area, the largest in its 26-year history, shows the confidence NZSki Ltd has in Queenstown, NZSki chief executive James Coddington says.

The Otago Conservation Board was briefed during its meeting on Friday on applications by NZSki to build a new chairlift to Curvey Basin, plus two new ski trails from the top of the chairlift, snowmaking facilities, the reticulation of water from Lake Alta and an expanded car park.

The proposed development would remain within the existing ski area sub-zone in the leased conservation area on the Remarkables mountain range, except for the application to take extra water from Lake Alta for snowmaking on the new trails.

The Otago Conservation Board had no objection in principle to more water being taken from nearby Lake Alta to meet snow-making needs for proposed new ski trails.

Mr Coddington said yesterday the company was comfortable with its Coronet Peak ski area after 10 years and the focus now was on what the company could do to bolster market growth and develop the Remarkables.

"We've got a lot of confidence in the Remarkables, being a higher mountain with a lot of diversity, increased snowfall and natural aspects which lend themselves to fantastic skiing and snowboarding terrain," he said.

The proposed 1.3km long, six-seat detachable Curvey Basin chairlift would begin in the lower of the two existing main car parks at 1600m and rise to a terminal at 1900m, just below the ridgeline at the head of the Rastus Burn, known as Curvey Basin, underneath Peak 2035, or Centurion Peak.

"Curvey Basin is about 50m from the summit in the saddle, so quite significantly further than where Alta chair stops at and it will certainly open up a considerable amount of terrain.

"The two extra trails would be fantastic intermediate trails all the way down to the bottom. It's about a 1.5km run, then from that chairlift we would be looking at access to high-intermediate to advanced terrain."

He declined to say how much the development would cost.

However, if the consent process went smoothly and business was consistently good, two stages of earthworks, involving the removal of 80,000cu m of soil, plus snow-making and the car park expansion, would be among the first jobs over one summer, followed by the chairlift installation the next year .

"We haven't been grantedconsent yet, so that process can depend on the public consultation and how it evolves," Mr Coddington said.

NZSki worked with the Department of Conservation for 18 months and believed it had mitigated all issues, he said.

"We've got to a stage where it's publicly notified and we're very excited to go through this final stage in order to get the consents."

"Once we have those consents, at least it provides us with the flexibility to make those choices," Mr Coddington said.

"We're confident it's going to attract more people to the area and that will culminate in more jobs, not just in our business, but in Queenstown as well."

To meet the needs of snow-making equipment for the expanded operation, it is proposed that the lake's maximum drawdown would be increased from 15cm to 57cm, and the lake level would be monitored by specialised equipment provided by Niwa.

A temporary pipe, about 40m long, is already used to remove water from the lake each winter for the ski area operation and the pipe is removed when the ski season is over.

After discussion, the Otago Conservation Board took the view that any extra water to be taken from the lake should flow mainly along the Rastus Burn, rather than through a proposed extended temporary pipeline, about 250m long.

Construction of a new pump-house to feed the ski area's growing snow-making network and to increase the amount of water abstracted from Lake Alta to meet snow-making needs was also proposed.


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