Remarks pass hike ahead of huge upgrade

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Queenstown’s skifield operator is increasing its cheapest season pass by $100 – ahead of one of its biggest investments in facilities.

NZSki will bump up The Remarkables’ discounted early-bird season pass price from $499 to $599 for the 2014 ski season.

Meanwhile, its Queenstown pass – which covers both local snow fields The Remarkables and Coronet Peak – will remain frozen at $889 as it has done for the past two seasons.

The skifield operator is planning to plough tens of millions of dollars into The Remarkables skifield during the next two summers – firstly opening up new terrain then revamping the base building.

NZSki’s sales and marketing boss Craig Douglas says the increase to The Remarkables-only pass reflects the development plans but won’t cover the costs: “It’s a sizeable investment – we’re not going to pay for it on season passes.

“It’s the price-sensitive end of the market we’re moving, but that’s where the work’s being done. We fully expect to be delivering a bigger and better product.

“The Coronet Peak price is where it is for three years now – you could argue we should be putting it up.

“The cost of running the business has been going up every year – insurance, fuel, electricity, staff wage rates. There’s nothing we get now for cheaper than what it was costing us three years ago.

“So we’re just having to make efficiencies elsewhere.”

Work will begin installing the new 1.2km Curvey Basin chairlift as soon as the snow melts this year, along with snowmaking and carpark improvements.

Next summer a new base building is planned.

NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson says: “It’s tens of millions – a lot of money and a significant investment for the region.

“Lift, snowmaking, carpark, earthworks then base building – it’s a significant project we’re getting underway. It’s probably going to be our biggest investment ever.

“With the new lift going in, it’s going to have terrain that rivals anywhere.”

The six-seater lift will run from the skifield’s car park to 1900m, above Lake Alta and just below the ridge. It will be in place for the opening of next season all going to plan.

It’ll increase the mountain’s capacity by 40 per cent – from 2500 to 3500 skiers a day – adding 13 per cent more trail area and major off-piste skiing opportunities in the basin.

Anderson says: “It’ll be awesome. I skied the fall line of where it will be and it’s beautiful rolling intermediate train all the way down.

“The trail will curve to flatten that out for novices – a 1.6km novice trail all the way to the base building.”

A total of 28 snowguns will be installed along the trail, with associated pipes and infrastructure works to ensure the ski field has enough electricity to power the guns.

The work is also expected to improve touring and trekking over the saddle in the Wye Valley.

It’s the largest investment since NZSki pumped $30 million in for 141 extra snow guns and new base building up Coronet Peak in 2008.

The ultimate NZSki pass, which includes Coronet, The Remarkables and Mt Hutt in Canterbury, remains at $999 for adults and $699 for youths or seniors.

A Coronet Peak night ski add-on, for Remarkables pass holders, also stays the same at $99 as does the Coronet Peak first-tracks add-on at $199 – that’s not available to those with The Remarkables-only pass.

The firm is also axing its Buddy Pass system, with Douglas saying it was convoluted and confusing for everybody.
All early-bird passes went on sale online today at 10am until March 20, with an eight-payment option available until the end of October.

Discount ski pass prices for 2014

Remarkables pass (Remarks access only – up $100) $599 (adult)

Queenstown pass (Remarks and Coronet Peak – no change) $889 (adult)

NZSki pass (Remarks, Coronet and Mt Hutt – no change) $999 (adult)