Forecast good for skifields

Forecasts of colder temperatures in the middle of next week are looking "very positive" for snowmaking, but it is too early to say when Coronet Peak and the Remarkables Ski Areas will open for business, NZSki chief executive James Coddington says.

For staff, it was a day-by-day wait for temperatures to drop long enough for Coronet Peak's snow-making operation to take effect, one week after the ski area was scheduled to open and a week before the Remarkables was scheduled to open.

He said NZSki staff was "hopeful and incredibly disappointed, along with the rest of the community", about Coronet Peak's postponed opening, due to recent mild temperatures.

When asked if the Remarkables Ski Area would open as hoped on June 18, Mr Coddington said it was still too far out to tell.

"We made the call [on Wednesday] that Mt Hutt would not be opening as planned on Saturday [June 11] and [the Remarkables] is a day-by-day situation as well.

"It will get cold and that's all we need. We have the technology and we have the firepower on all of our mountains to make a lot of snow very quickly. We just need the cold temperatures."

The 211 full-automated snowguns at Coronet Peak can make 24 tonnes of snow a minute. There are 50 snowguns at the Remarkables and 80 at Mt Hutt.

The 220 Queenstown-based NZSki staff members employed at Coronet Peak were not working and were not paid until the mountain opened.

"All our staff are told that in sign-up," Mr Coddington said.

"I went to every single sign-up personally and told all staff the situation before they signed on to work for NZSki.

"It's also outlined in their contracts, so if there's no snow, there's no work. That's not unique to NZSki - that's the world over."

The company organised daily barbecues and dispensed soup to ensure waiting staff were fed and organised daily activities to keep them occupied.

"We have touch rugby, frisbee golf, volleyball - all sorts of fun things like that."

Mr Coddington said the 160 staff set to work at the Remarkables will continue to be trained on Tuesday to Friday. A decision on whether the mountain can open as planned will be made nearer the scheduled opening date.

- james.beech@odt.co.nz

 

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