Major Queenstown ski-field expansion on cards

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The Remarkables ski area is planning major development works to open up more terrain for skiers and riders with a new chairlift.
 
NZSki has applied to the Otago Conservation Board to build a new chairlift to Curvy Basin, establish new ski trails from the top of the chairlift, install snowmaking facilities using water drawn from Lake Alta, and expand car parking in a multi-million-dollar project. 

The proposed 1.3km long, six-seat detachable Curvy Basin chairlift would begin in the lower of the two existing main car parks at 1600m and rise to a terminal at 1900m, just below the ridgeline at the head of the Rastus Burn, known as Curvy Basin, underneath Centurion Peak. 

Curvy Basin is significantly further than where the existing Alta chairlift stopped and will open up a considerable amount of terrain, NZSki boss James Coddington says. 

The two extra trails will be about 1.5km from the top of the new chairlift to the base building, and the new chair will also access more high-intermediate to advanced terrain. 

“We have been working on development plans for a while and while it is good to have reached this point, it is likely the project will take a number of years to deliver,” Coddington says. 

“The process of seeking consent is the next stage – then we can begin to look at when might be the right time to begin. 

“I wouldn’t like to raise people’s hopes that this will be up and running in the next year or two,” he adds. 

NZSki has heavily invested in its premier mountain Coronet Peak in recent years, and now it’s The Remarkables’ turn for development so it can “grow with the market”. 

“We’ve seen strong growth out of Australia and good domestic growth over the last decade, and the medium to long-term projections are that tourism growth will continue. It requires medium to long term planning to meet this opportunity,” Coddington says. 

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in The Remarkables ski area, as it’s a higher mountain with a lot of diversity, a good history of snowfall, and three north-facing natural basins. 

“These all naturally lend themselves to fantastic skiing and snowboarding terrain, so we see the scope to provide even better product for our local, national and international guests.” 

The first of two stages of earthworks will involve removing 80,000 cubic metres of soil, plus installing snow-making and expanding the car park. 

Coddington believes expansion at The Remarkables will not only benefit the ski areas by attracting more visitors to the area, but will result in more jobs and business confidence in Queenstown.