Major NZSki development plan revealed

The Shadow Basin section of the Remarkables Ski Area. The new 780m Shadow Basin Trail will weave...
The Shadow Basin section of the Remarkables Ski Area. The new 780m Shadow Basin Trail will weave under the Shadow Basin chairlift. Photo supplied.
Major development of the Remarkables Ski Area - including the installation of 12 new snow guns and two new trails - will have to comply with strict conditions imposed by the Department of Conservation (Doc).

NZSki Ltd and Remarkables Ski Area manager Ross Lawrence filed for permission this month to modify two trails, and create two new trails in time for the 2011 winter ski season.

NZSki commissioned Davis Environmental Services Limited (DES) to undertake an ecological assessment, which told Lakes Environmental the impacts of the proposal would be less than minor to minor.

However, Doc, which administers the land, must authorise the proposed works.

If consent is granted, Doc will brief contractors and NZSki staff before earthworks begin.

All proposals would be monitored weekly, at the expense of NZSki.

Doc also requires $15,000 from NZSki for a study into wetland ecology on the mountain.

Mr Lawrence said he found Doc's conditions "fair and reasonable".

"We have to work together with Doc to control the visual impact of any works. New Zealand is known for its unique landscapes. We understand the need to keep things unique."

He declined to reveal the estimated cost of the developments.

Under the Shadow Basin chairlift, a new 780m Shadow Basin Trail will weave along the chairlift line, and under the Alta chairlift, rock-blasting would open up a new 180m Alta Blue Trail.

A section of the Upper Castaway Trail would be levelled to create a constant incline, instead of a steep section into a flat section, which caused difficulties to users of all abilities.

The Turquoise Trail would be expanded to provide a trail for novices.

"The focus for us is on those novice abilities and providing more beginner terrain.

From a business sense, we need to attract those sorts of people from overseas," Mr Lawrence said.

Subject to NZSki board approval, eight new snow cannons will cater for the new Alta Blue Trail and three or four cannons will be added to Shadow Basin area.

"We're all looking forward to it and the changes will make a huge difference for our users and to the ski area. We've got something going on under all three chairlifts, so it will be a big improvement," he said.

During the works, a large amount of vegetation would be temporarily re-located.

Mr Lawrence said the works would be carried out by operators who would understand the need to retain all vegetation.

Doc had ruled certain species of plant must be removed by hand.

If granted consent, the works should be finished by mid-April, he said.

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