Earlybird ski passes slashed


Queenstown’s NZSki is slashing hundreds of dollars off its pre-season passes to encourage more skiers and boarders to its skifields.

Its 2016 earlybird pass for Queenstown’s Coronet Peak and The Remarkables and Canterbury’s Mt Hutt will be $599 - $400 or 40 per cent less than the same pass this year. It’s also $300 or 30 per cent less than this year’s pre-season pass for the two Queenstown fields.

It’s even $100 less than this year’s Remarkables-only pre-season pass.

NZSki’s also introducing a four-day learn-to-ski package for $499, down from about $750 this year - there’s then the option of buying the three-skifield pass for another $100.

NZSki believes its Earlybird 3-Peak Pass - on sale from December 17 till March 31 - will encourage more newcomers to town to go skiing or boarding as well as those who’ve stopped due to cost constraints.

It also wants to entice out-of-towners, including Aussies, who normally wouldn’t buy a pre-season pass.

NZSki chairman Sir John Davies, whose company has spent $130 million upgrading its ski areas, says: “Over the last decade we’ve given local children very competitive prices through the schools programme, but our research shows that lots of families with these children haven’t been able to afford family skiing.

“Our new prices are also aimed at the Australian market where the New Zealand dollar remains relatively high.

“If we can stimulate this market too, it will benefit all of the wider Queenstown business community.”

NZSki CEO Paul Anderson believes there won’t be any problem accommodating more skiers and snowboarders.

He says upgrades - including $45m spent at The Remarkables in the past two years on a new six-seater chairlift, new base building, road sealing and extended carparking and trails - have increased capacity.

Even when Coronet Peak had up to 5000 skiers/boarders a day during the July school holidays, he says lift queues were only five to seven minutes long.

“We’re proud of the facilities we’ve invested in over the years and want to make sure as many people as possible come up and enjoy what’s on offer.

“We live in this incredible region with mountains on our doorstep so let’s get as many people as possible on our slopes.”

NZSki’s new earlybird pass is the biggest change to its pricing strategy since 2001 when it introduced a pre-season pass for its two local fields for only $299. In subsequent seasons it hiked the pass to $399, $499 for two years, $549, $579, $649 and then $699 in 2008 and 2009.

In 2010, NZSki lifted the price to $799, then raised it to $889 the year after, prompting Facebook protest pages.

That price was frozen for the following two years before creeping up another $10 for the past two seasons.

Meanwhile the company’s also slashed earlybird age group passes next year.

Passes for seven to 17-year-olds and for 65-plus-year-olds will be $399 and tertiary students will pay $419.

Six-and-unders and 75-plus-year-olds go free.