$35m investment in skifields

The owner of Queenstown's skifields has announced a $35million investment project featuring a chondola, new lift, and summer offerings.

The boost takes NZSki's total investment in Coronet Peak and The Remarkables to nearly $100million since 2014.

As well as the chondola, which will feature a mix of chairs and gondola cabins to replace the Coronet Express, NZSki is adding a six-seater express chairlift from the base of The Remarkables and expanding into summer activities at Coronet Peak.

NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson called the investment "massive".

An artist's impression of how the new top station at The Remarkables may look. PHOTO: DOPPELMAYR
An artist's impression of how the new top station at The Remarkables may look. PHOTO: DOPPELMAYR

It follows outcry over the granting of consent to extend the learners slope at The Remarkables, which opponents claimed would destroy a protected wetland.

Mr Anderson admitted the negative attention had been frustrating.

"That publicity really hurt us, because we are deadly serious about the work we do on our mountains."

However, he hoped the investment, coupled with walking the talk on conservation efforts, would turn the tide of public opinion.

The major upgrades followed a bumper ski season, when operations were up about 20%, he said.

In winter, the new Italian-designed Telemix chondola at Coronet will operate predominantly as an express chairlift, while in summer the chairs will be dedicated to mountain-bikers and gondola cabins will be incorporated for sightseers. The Telemix is designed for a capacity of 3000 people per hour.

Those not so keen on the cold will be able to check out Coronet in summer and the company is seeking to offer guided walks, sightseeing, mountain biking, and a restaurant for the 2019-20 season.

The sheer number of people wanting to head up in summer was the driving force, Mr Anderson said.

"We'll have 200 to 300 up there a day, and at the moment there's nothing for them to do."

Over at The Remarkables, the Sugar Bowl Basin is set to be redeveloped.

That incorporated a new high-speed six-seater chairlift starting from the base area and opening trails that were previously harder to access or off-piste, Mr Anderson said.

"Following this major upgrade, we will look to replace the Shadow Basin chairlift with a new high-speed lift which will position us for further expansion."

"We've always been open about the need to expand the ski area into the Doolans and we will continue to talk with the Department of Conservation about how we can make this terrain available to our guests in the future."

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