Mixed fortunes for resort’s skifields in 2023

Reflecting on an "operationally challenging" winter at Coronet Peak are, from left: The...
Reflecting on an "operationally challenging" winter at Coronet Peak are, from left: The Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence, Coronet Peak ski area manager Nigel Kerr and NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson. PHOTO: TRACEY ROXBURGH
It was almost a tale of two mountains in Queenstown last winter.

As Coronet Peak battled through the season, struggling with a lack of snow — ending with 117cm, about half its annual average — across the valley, The Remarkables enjoyed record visitation, which created its own challenges.

Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence said they had a limited opening to the season, due to snow coverage.

"We had some pretty big numbers up there early on that were pretty constrained with where they could get about on the hill.

"It does go to prove that snow is the number one driver — even if you haven’t got a lot of it, when people hear about it, they’re coming."

NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson said despite the "operationally challenging" year, Queenstown skifield visitation held strong.

Pre-Covid, the 10-year average for NZSki was 434,000.

This season, the company hosted just under 500,000 visitors, which was an 8% decrease on 2022’s record 540,000, while the overall Southern Lakes visitation was down by about 12%, he said.

"We did disproportionately well on the Queenstown side — the Wanaka mountains potentially suffering a little bit because we had the Australians more coming into Queenstown."

Looking ahead, Mr Lawrence said work was under way on the new $23 million Shadow Basin chairlift redevelopment, which would see another six-seat detachable chairlift run from the base area to near the top of "The Chutes", opening open up 43 hectares of terrain for intermediate-and-above skiers and snowboarders

Another redevelopment of the base building, last completed in 2015, also looks to be on the cards.

"We’re nine years into that and we’ve already exceeded the capacity," Mr Lawrence said.

"We’re looking very hard at how we expand that to cater for our growing numbers."

Mr Anderson said they continued to work on a proposal to expand The Remarkables southwards into the Doolans Creek area, expanding the skiable terrain from 385ha to 900ha, and expected it would be another two years before a formal application would be lodged.

"We will only do that with the support of this community.

"It’s going to be a hard enough exercise for us to do with the support of the community, but without it, it would be impossible, so we’re keen to engage as much as we possibly can."

At Coronet Peak, investment was focused on underlying infrastructure, primarily on replacement of 20-year-old in-ground pipes, and new snowmaking equipment, which could operate at "far more marginal

Mr Anderson said the company was "really confident in the future of Coronet Peak" and was also considering future investments to build summer activity.

Off the mountains, NZSki, which owns five houses off Gorge Rd, purchased the former Tahuna Pod Hostel — with capacity for 72 people — to be used as staff accommodation.

Another 24 beds will be added to the Henry St property by next winter, while construction was also about to start on six two-bedroom apartments on Fryer St.

Additionally, the company has applied for 18 one-bedroom apartments in the same area.

"It signals we’re committed to just taking that heat out of it for the staff who are moving here ... and it means we can contribute some of that accommodation that we need."

Meanwhile, NZSki achieved a 52% reduction in carbon emissions this year, but needs to achieve up to 10% emissions reduction per annum to achieve its goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.

"We know that we will have to look at some off-setting," Mr Anderson said.

"Certainly now, but maybe not even in 2030, will technology quite be there for us to go all the way to carbon neutral."



Consumed on Queenstown mountains this season.—

—  30,000 meals served from the restaurant line

—  40,000 pies eaten

—  85,000 meals with hot chips ordered

—  85,000 hot drinks, 50,000 of which were flat whites, equating to 25,000 litres of milk

—  421,000 beverages