New ride: Coronet Peak's maintenance head with one of the new eight-seater gondola cabins

NZSki’s still waiting on the Department of Conservation (DoC) to make a decision on its 40-year concession application for Coronet Peak, which includes a long-term plan to install a ‘snow factory’ .

But it’s been given the green light for eight gondola cabins to be used from December 1 to March 31 – summer hours are from 11am till 6.30pm daily.

The new eight-seater cabins will carry foot passengers and guided hikers – who’ll go around summit rocks and the ridgeline to Mount Aurum.

And, for the first time in 30-odd years, the hill’s being opened up for a full season of mountain biking, using the 72 chairlifts for self-loading.

NZSki boss Paul Anderson says the company had a meeting with the DoC last
week about progress on its 40-year Coronet Peak concession application.

It includes plans for a ‘snow factory’, capable of making snow all year round.

Anderson was told DoC’s three-quarters through writing its decision, but hasn’t given NZSki a timeframe for completion.

Meanwhile, over at The Remarkables, work’s under way on the installation of a $16 million Doppelmayr D-line high-speed chairlift.

It was initially supposed to have been spinning this past winter.

NZSki applied to DoC last year for the six-seater Sugar Basin chairlift, revised ski trails and snowmaking equipment.

But DoC’s decision was delayed after concerns were raised about the environmental impact of the work.

Ground was finally broken last month.

Ski area boss Ross Lawrence says since then the bottom drive terminal’s had 90 cubic metres of concrete poured into the base foundation, the base foundations for towers one and two have been set up, steel reinforcing caging inserted around them and about 20cu m of concrete poured around both.

Each day another load of equipment for the bottom terminal’s being brought up
the hill and put in the “drop zone” ahead of the Meccano-like install on to the base
terminal concrete columns which is due to happen late January.