Queenstown’s Coronet Peak will stay open for an extra week as NZSki’s winter of discontent draws to a close.
NZSki boss James Coddington confirms the extension to Coronet’s 2011 season is thanks to recent cooler temperatures helping with snow-making.
Coronet had Sunday pencilled in as its last day but is now expected to host a final flurry on October 9. The Remarkables will now close this Sunday, a week earlier than planned.
Coddington says it makes sense to swap closing dates as Coronet got 10cm of new snow this week and has better conditions overall.
It’s also great to be able to give season passholders another week to enjoy Coronet – and those with Remarkables-only season passes will be able to use them at Coronet, he says.
NZSki is also offering free skiing to those aged 17 and under on the final Coronet weekend of October 8-9. The Remarkables Spring Carnival will now be held at Coronet that same weekend.
“People lost at the start of the season and it’s great to be able to give back a little bit at the end.”
Business has suffered at NZSki after a string of natural disasters – the Canterbury earthquakes, Queensland floods and the Chilean volcanic ash cloud – made a dent on usual international and domestic advanced bookings this season.
Plus Queenstown’s warmest May and third-warmest June on record, which “really had a massive impact on our snow-making capabilities”, further added to the damage.
“To lose June, when we’re really only a four-and-a-half month business, that’s really significant. Once we did open, July, August and September have all been extremely positive. It exceeded our expectations and both mountains performed very well,” Coddington says.
The company’s Canterbury ski field, Mt Hutt, “has had its most challenging season in 10 years”.
Snowmaking was the saviour of the Queenstown season, Coddington says.
“It’s such an important part of our business. This year, what we’ve experienced, we hope is certainly not the norm. You need to have the fire power when it’s cold to make snow at every opportunity.”
Coddington pays tribute to his staff, most of who went without pay while the mountains stayed closed in June.
“They worked together, they supported each other and every day they turned up to work with a smile to deliver the best product they can. That’s my highlight of the season,” he says.