Greengates must clip own ticket

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Coronet Peak bosses deny “profit-maximising” by not opening the Greengates chairlift when the mountain is quieter.

The six-seat lift is traditionally opened a few weeks into the season – because of a lack of snow – but ample amounts of white stuff saw Greengates running on opening day last Saturday.

But the chair will only run when the mountain’s busy, ski area manager Hamish McCrostie confirms – something clearly outlined on the home page of NZSki’s website.

“NZSki and Coronet Peak are absolutely committed to continuing to invest in New Zealand’s premier ski areas into the future. In order to continue to do this, we need to make decisions such as not running the Greengates lift during midweek at this time of year when business levels are not high.”

His comments come after Queenstown season pass holder James Penwell complained to management about not being able to ski the whole mountain when Greengates was closed on Monday morning.

“I think it’s absolutely appalling and it treats season pass holders and indeed people who come up to buy a daily pass with a great deal of derision and disrespect because they’re taking the money off people … and then refusing to provide the service so they can maximise profit and save some money,” Penwell tells Mountain Scene.

“I fully accept that there are going to be occasions when there’s a lack of snow, or when there’s high winds and they can’t operate all the lifts, but when the conditions are perfect, you come up here in the expectation that you can ski the whole mountain.”

Coronet Peak won’t be fully staffed till closer to Winter Festival – in the meantime Greengates will open only during the week “when business levels and conditions allow” and in weekends, McCrostie says.

“We believe this is prudent business management and not profit-maximising.”

Meanwhile, Coronet Peak infrastructure’s undergone a few touch-ups to take it into the future.

Last year’s glitches such as electrical problems on the Coronet Express lift, cable repairs and heavy ice removal on the lift have all been seen to, McCrostie says.

The old analogue lift controls have been replaced with digital: “It’s new software and it provides us the ability to troubleshoot and fault-find very quickly.

“It’s certainly a step forward for us.”

The chairlift cable was completely replaced over summer after a section had to be repaired last winter: “This lift is getting to be 18 years old now, so when the rope reaches the end of its life it needs replacing,” he says.

And the ice build-up causing lift delays last year? “Riming is something that happens in certain conditions. When you get super-cool water vapour in cloud below zero, as soon as it hits something solid it freezes.

“Our procedures have been modified since last year to de-ice as quickly and as early as possible.”