One of NZSki’s own volunteer ambassadors is among those protesting the latest Queenstown season pass price hikes.
NZSki faces a backlash after bumping up its popular earlybird pass – for Queenstown fields Coronet Peak and The Remarkables – by $90 to $889.
The rise sparked angry reaction at website scene.co.nz and prompted Facebook protest pages aimed at pressuring NZSki to keep prices down.
Longtime Queenstowner Peter Lohmann, a volunteer ambassador up Coronet Peak for the past two seasons, is “gobsmacked” at NZSki’s 11 per cent hike when so many people are struggling financially.
“It was always seen as something the skifield did for locals. They’ve done an excellent job up the mountain but the prices are too high,” Lohmann fumes.
“Last season I thought it was too much – that it was at the maximum.”
Last season, NZSki hiked the pass by $100 to $799. It is now almost three-times what it was when first introduced in 2001 for $299.
Prior to unveiling 2011 prices, NZSki chief executive James Coddington told a local meeting that residents would be “pleasantly surprised”, while marketing boss Craig Douglas said the change wasn’t major.
Queenstowner Mark Moran, who started one of the Facebook protest pages, says the $90 rise for the ‘locals only’ pass is extraordinary.
“My expectation was they were going to drop the price a little. If it had decreased like I expected it to I would have bought a pass.”
NZSki’s Douglas says the company won’t be changing its prices.
“Where we’re at now for what we’re offering this season is fair value.”
NZSki will also soon announce new investment in smaller projects improving both Coronet and The Remarkables, he says.
Asked if Coddington saying locals would be “pleasantly surprised” was unfortunate, Douglas says: “You need to put that comment into context. We had a learned a great deal from the data we had from the previous season.
“We had a figure as to what we thought people were getting out of a season pass – it turned out they were getting a great deal more, which is fine – and we haven’t adjusted that price to account for that difference.”
NZSki stats from new personalised ‘mypass’ swipe cards show Queenstown season pass holders skied an average 18 days last season – roughly $49 a day at 2011 prices.
Kids aged six and under ski free at Coronet. Those aged 10 and under go free at The Remarkables. A Remarkables-only pass is $499 while seniors and youths get bigger discounts.
The cheaper earlybird passes, only available to Otago and Southland residents, increase in price after March 17.