Coronet Peak’s ability to produce snow could land a prize at the prestigious New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards.
A combined entry by privately-owned Queenstown engineering company Hadley Consultants, tourism giants NZSki and Italian firm TechnoAlpin for a three-year-long snow-making mission has secured them a coveted finalist spot in the water, waste and amenities category.
If they win, the entry will also be in the running for the supreme award – for completed engineering projects of national significance – selected from the victors of eight sectors. The gongs will be presented in Wellington at a glitzy ceremony next Wednesday.
Hadley Consultants managing director James Hadley is “obviously delighted” to make the finals ahead of bigwig engineering firms for the development – which makes Coronet the largest snow-making facility in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Basically, before NZSki started this project they had 61 [manually-operated] snow guns. They’ve now got 202 automated snowmaking machines,” Hadley says.
The mountain now boasts four water storage reservoirs with a combined volume of 252 million litres, more than 20km of water-pipes, compressed air pipes and power cabling.
“That combined infrastructure allows NZSki to make sufficient snow to provide a half metre of snow cover to all of their main trails over the ski entire area,” Hadley says.
“As far as winter tourism is concerned in New Zealand, and certainly in Queenstown, the opening of the ski season is a fairly key event and snow-making provides certainty around that date.”
Coronet Peak ski area boss Hamish McCrostie is also “chuffed” with the nomination, saying due to the snow-makers, slopes are ready for punters by early June.
“Being open at that time really sends a message out into the marketplace both in New Zealand and Australia that
‘Hey we’ve got snow, we’re open and come on over’.”
Airlines then have confidence to put on more flights and increase Trans-Tasman capacity and the local community can invest in infrastructure, McCrostie says.
“The flow-on effect is huge for everybody.”