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Two international visitors living in Wanaka for the winter have had their ski season cut short after being the first people this year to be trespassed from all the region's skifields.
The men were snowboarding at Snow Park in the Pisa Range on Sunday when they were caught by a staff member allegedly using the chairlift without passes.
A 26-year-old man from England and a 30-year-old man from the United States were subsequently charged with fraud and would appear in the Queenstown District Court on July 16, Senior Constable Bruce McLean, of Wanaka police, said.
The pair have also been given two-year bans from all six of the district's skifields - Cardrona, Treble Cone, Snow Farm, Snow Park, the Remarkables and Coronet Peak - and Mt Hutt in Canterbury. The trespass notice was served as part of a collective agreement between Queenstown and Wanaka police and skifield management, which is aimed at reducing serious offending on the mountains, including ticket fraud, assault or theft.
Snow Park operations manager Pete Browne, who discovered the two snowboarders' alleged deception during a routine lift-pass check, said while the ban was a "bit of a blow" for the men, it was a necessary measure to send a clear message to other potential "scammers".
"I felt sympathetic and bad for them, but at the same time we've got to have a hard line and we've got pretty strict policies on that and all the skifields have formed an alliance to defend ourselves against this," Mr Browne said.
"We are checking all the time.
"We don't have that electronic [ticketing] system, but we're always out there and there's just no room for error."
The Snow Park incident follows a pre-season warning from police there would be a zero-tolerance approach to ski-pass fraud and other serious skifield offences.
Snr Const McLean said the incident was the first of its kind Wanaka police had dealt with since the ski season began last month.
There had been no reports yet of ski-pass fraud at the Queenstown skifields this season, Sergeant Steve Watt, of Queenstown police, said. A person giving their pass to another person to use is also criminally liable.