June completion date for new lift

Building the Curvey Basin chairlift is  progressing at the Remarkables ski area.  The...
Building the Curvey Basin chairlift is progressing at the Remarkables ski area. The multimillion-dollar, high-speed, six-seater chairlift, capable of carrying up to 2400 passengers an hour, is expected to be commissioned early in June. Photo supplied.
It has taken a 6WD crane, more than 95cu m of concrete and an eight-strong team from an internationally-renowned cable transport company to pull off what has been described as a ''major engineering feat'' at a Queenstown ski area.

The Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence said the multimillion-dollar, high-speed Curvey Basin chairlift was taking shape.

Once completed, it would carry a total of 63 six-seater chairs, carrying up to 2400 passengers up the hill each hour.

The chairlift was part of a ''substantial'' investment in the ski area, including road realignment, sealing of the lower access road, trail developments, expansion of the snow-making system and extended car parking.

Mr Lawrence said a team from Leitner-Poma had been working with staff for the past three months to complete the project and he was ''hugely excited'' with progress to date, given the complexities of installing a chairlift.

''Before the towers were erected, we had a programme of digging foundations at each tower site, putting boxing in place and building a reinforcing rod steel cage inside the boxing, before pouring and curing concrete,'' Mr Lawrence said.

A 6WD crane, weighing 40 tonnes, was being used to install the top towers and terminal, lifting each of the towers into place before they were fixed to the foundations.

Foundations at each end of the 1.2km chairlift required 95cu m of concrete, while each tower foundation had 12cu m.

''The weight-bearing load of each tower differs, depending on the angle of the cable, which itself weighs 19 tonnes, so all-in-all it's a massive project. The tallest tower is 16m above the ground.

''We're stoked with progress, especially as the weather varies from week to week, but we're working to the plan set out.

''Getting the towers up is a huge milestone for us and it's all really exciting. You can start to get a really good idea of what the lift and trails will look like in the middle of winter.''

A new trail map had also been created for The Remarkables showing the line of the new lift and runs to be accessed.

Curvey Basin lift will open up another 10.1ha of formed trails.

With increased off-piste opportunities it will increase the ski area's capacity by 40%.

All the towers are due to be installed by early next month and the cable will be hauled along the assemblies soon after that.

Another group of staff will then run electrical services to the lift before it is commissioned early in June.

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