NZSki bosses are eager to quash rumours about snow conditions, saying they’re negatively impacting Queenstown as a whole.
Recent warmer temperatures and lack of consistent natural snow have sparked stories about snowmaking being too expensive, water for snowmaking running out and that Coronet Peak and The Remarkables may have to close early.
NZSki top brass reject all of this.
“The one about us going to shut early – that’s absolutely outlandish,” NZSki chief executive James Coddington says.
“We all should be working together, that’s what Queenstown Inc’s all about. There are very few businesses which don’t do well out of a busy town. We’re not doing ourselves any favours when we’re detracting from Queenstown Inc, whether that be with snow conditions or personal experiences.”
NZSki marketing boss Craig Douglas says rumours send an inaccurate picture to the wider market.
“It’s not right to turn off an Australian or NZ market if there’s no need to.”
Coddington, Douglas and ski area manager Hamish McCrostie all concede that without snowmaking, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables would struggle to open, especially early in the season.
Water’s not running out – there’s still 90 million litres available in reservoirs and up to 1.5m litres of water is replenished daily when they’re not making snow, they say.
“Ninety million litres is more than most ski resorts have for their entire season,” Coddington says.
Coronet Peak’s 218 fully-automated snow guns switch on as soon as it’s cold enough, any time of the day or night.
The Remarkables has 58 guns.
“Snowmaking’s an essential part of our business. We budget for it and we forecast for it. We’ve invested a significant amount of money in snowmaking to make the season as long as we possibly can, and everyone benefits from that,” Coddington says.
“So the rumours around it being too expensive to make snow, well that’s an investment we’ve made and will continue to make in our product.
“Most people in commerce should be very excited about the fact that we want to extend the season for as long as we possibly can. The only thing which dictates it is the coldness of the weather.”
Cardrona Alpine Resort marketing manager Nadia Ellis is also singing the praises of snowmaking.
“It has helped supplement the natural snowfall received early in the season and helped us to ensure snow coverage in high-traffic areas,” she says.
All three ski fields received a much-needed top-up of natural snow earlier this week.
Despite limited off-piste availability at Coronet Peak, Coddington says a healthy number of visitors – half of which are Australian – still rate their experience and no Australian bookings have been cancelled.
“Most of our Australian visitors aren’t experienced enough or interested enough to go off-piste, and they’re having a ball,” Coddington adds.
“The school holidays were a great example of that – there was limited off-piste skiing, however, the feedback from not just Australians but also Kiwis was absolutely fantastic in both weeks.”