A high-profile Queenstown businessman is calling for the resort to exit the “Stone Age” – by making snow tyres compulsory on local roads in winter.
Geoff Matthews is pushing for the change after exchanging words with tourism giant NZSki over the fact he’d be required to fit chains on his $1500-a-pop snow tyres to get to resort slopes.
The BrandCom marketing boss emailed Coronet Peak ski area manager Hamish McCrostie last week, saying:
“Asking to fit chains on these is asking us to decrease the tyres’ performance and … increase the risk of an acci-
dent. Please don’t punish those who take the time and spend the money on proper equipment for the snow.”
The popular ski area has a policy that requires all vehicles to have chains fitted in certain poor conditions – but
Matthews argues NZSki could be a leader in the community by taking up his suggestions.
“If they said you could either fit chains or these tyres, then we’d change the behaviour of locals. The whole place would be safer – we’d reduce accidents.”
Matthews thinks it is “bizarre” that some European companies spend a fortune on tyre testing at Snow Farm – situated in the Cardona Valley – and yet they’re not widely used in the region.
“They develop them here and we live in the Stone Age.
“Everywhere else in the world where you live in a cold climate it is compulsory to have winter tyres. And we drive round on summer tyres. It’s madness.”
Matthews claims it’s more economical to switch tyre types twice a year since summer threads wear faster in cold conditions, and winter tyres are priced about the same – you can get some for roughly $250 each.
After testing snow tyres at Snow Farm himself, Matthews shelled out for ice and snow tyres on his 10 company cars – his email battle started after one was refused access up Coronet because it lacked chains.
Ski boss McCrostie doesn’t disagree with Matthews about the advantages of winter tyres, but says in emails the skifield “must manage with the technology and road laws as they stand”.
“If we make an exception for one, then we make a rod for our backs.”
Matthews, who drives a V10 Audi, says he can’t fit chains anyway since it’d stuff up his wheel sensors.