Skifields being groomed for success


The largest single order of snow groomers in New Zealand history is making its way to NZSki’s mountains.

Seven state-of-the-art Kassbohrer Piston Bully 600 and 400 series cats are due to arrive from Germany in May to service the slopes at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Mt Hutt.

Coronet Peak and The Remarkables will get two beasts each – valued at about $550,000 apiece. They’ll also each get one winch cat to allow grooming on steeper pitches across the mountains.

NZSki boss James Coddington’s looking forward to their arrival and says he won’t need to consider sending one up to Whakapapa skifield – which lost three groomers as part of $5 million worth of damage to buildings caused by arson last Friday. “[Ruapehu Alpine Lifts boss Dave Mazey] has a similar model to what we do – he purchases new machines every year and those new machines obviously won’t have been in the shed because they don’t arrive until May anyway.”

Nevertheless, Coddington’s offering to help Mazey as he faces a difficult winter ahead. “As soon as we heard about [the arson] we gave him a call and let him know that we’re here to help and assist.”

Coddington’s confident his skifields have strong security in place if a similar attack occurred – it was ramped up after vandals caused $57,000 of damage at Coronet Peak in November 2007.

Meanwhile, he’s denying NZSki downplayed the fact the earlybird season prices – touted as “unchanged” from 2008 – don’t include access to Ohau Snow Fields.

The decision to exclude the Mackenzie country field from the pass was Ohau director Mike Neilson’s, he says.
“We don’t own Ohau, we have no control over whether Ohau are involved in our ski pass or not.

“If you ask 95 per cent of the customers who didn’t even go to Ohau whether that’s a price increase or not, I’d imagine they’d tell you exactly what it is – it’s not,” says Coddington.

Neilson says it’s no longer viable to offer free access to NZSki pass holders – instead he’s offering them a season ticket for the “nominal charge” of $89.