Ski season ends: support from NZers ‘overwhelming’

The Remarkables Ski Area crew celebrated the end of the Covid-19-disrupted season with a beach...
The Remarkables Ski Area crew celebrated the end of the Covid-19-disrupted season with a beach-themed party yesterday. PHOTO: NZSKI
Queenstown's ski season has officially ended and despite early concerns about patronage, The Remarkables Ski Area manager Ross Lawrence has thanked New Zealanders for their support.

While numbers were definitely down at The Remarkables, due to the skifield only opening partially all season — with the exception of the school holidays, it only opened at weekends — the support of New Zealanders had been "overwhelming", Mr Lawrence said.

"By all accounts it’s been a great winter for us and we just really want to put it out there, our appreciation for the Kiwis coming to town — it’s been gratefully received.

"It’s certainly proved Kiwis do travel internally and they’re finding places like The Remarkables.

"Certainly numbers are down, and that’s been realised, but for us ... the positive is the increased patronage above what we anticipated. We’re looking to be open seven days a week next year as well.

"There’s always that question [around future restrictions], but if things carry on as they are and we’re at Level 1 ... that alone with New Zealanders frequenting the Queenstown area, I think we can manage it and it would be good to open full time."

This year, NZSki employed less than half the number of staff it ordinarily would and pooled its resources across both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.

Mr Lawrence said fully staffing both Queenstown skifields next year was "a concern, definitely", given the previous reliance on itinerant and migrant workers.

However, he was hopeful more New Zealanders might, by then, realise opportunities in the ski industry.

Further, it was unlikely there would be the same number of patrons next season as there was last year, given the Australian market might still not be available, which might equate to fewer staff being required.

"There are a lot of unknowns there.

"We’re probably going into next year conservatively and I’d like to think that we can manage it with staff that are available to us," Mr Lawrence said.

This summer, work on the skifield would focus on finishing off the improvements started before Covid-19.

While NZSki managed to install its new chairlift, new trails were still to be completed and 23 snow guns still had to be installed, he said.

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