Chairlift work 'thank you'

The staff and contractors who helped build Coronet Peak's new chairlift in record time have been thanked at a "roof shout".

NZSki owner Sir John Davies (left) and chief executive Paul Anderson are all smiles at Coronet...
NZSki owner Sir John Davies (left) and chief executive Paul Anderson are all smiles at Coronet Peak yesterday. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
At an informal function at the Queenstown skifield yesterday, NZSki owner Sir John Davies and chief executive Paul Anderson were joined by some of the estimated 200 contractors who worked on the $20million project.

Mr Anderson said the decision to replace the chairlift's 25-year-old predecessor with the "state-of-the-art", high-speed six-seater came from a realisation it was not delivering the level of service the company aspired to.

It was also becoming increasingly harder to maintain.

Sir John said he was "amazed" by the Leitner Ropeways lift's capabilities.

"It's the most expensive bit of equipment I've ever bought, or been involved with, but I'm thrilled with the product at the end of it.

"It'll be magnificent for the public when they see it."

It had been built in "record time" after he gave it the go-ahead last September.

Its official certification for commercial operation arrived yesterday.

It can carry 3000 passengers an hour, taking just over four minutes to whisk passengers up to the skifield's highest point.

The ski area will open on schedule tomorrow, but not for skiers and snowboarders.

Rain and warm temperatures have washed away much of the natural and man-made snow that covered the mountain after the most recent cold snap.

Ski area manager Nigel Kerr said it would open for sledding and $30 sightseeing rides on the new chairlift.

A cold front forecast to arrive tomorrow night was expected to bring some natural snow and allow snowmaking to resume, he said.

NZSki's plans to install a $16million replacement chairlift for The Remarkables ski area's Sugar Basin chairlift were shelved in February after the operation did not get approval from the Department of Conservation to build it in time for this season.

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