A project five years in the planning — which will change the game for a Queenstown skifield — is about to be officially signed off.

NZSki’s new $23million high-speed, six-seater Shadow Basin chairlift at The Remarkables is in the final stages of being commissioned by Doppelmayr — load testing started on Tuesday.

At full speed, it’ll move skiers and boarders from the bottom to the top in about three-and-a-half minutes, with capacity for 2400 people per hour, a 60% increase.

New ski area manager Steve Hall says the chairlift opens up 47 hectares of additional lift-serviced terrain, primarily for intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders, including freeride runs such as Alta Chute and Boulder Basin, but also has trails coming from the top into the basin for a ‘‘real mix’’ of users.

The cherry on top is the addition of 16 snowguns in Shadow Basin, which Hall believes will be “a really big game changer” for that part of the skifield.

‘‘It’s an incredible lift, it’s so impressive and the terrain that it’s going to open up, it’s going to be amazing and with the snowmaking it’s an incredible addition to The Remarks.

‘‘We think it’ll be really popular.’’

Final stages: Pictured in front of The Remarkables’ new Shadow Basin chair are, from left, NZSki project manager Louise McQuillan, Doppelmayr supervisor Brian Ramsey, ski area manager Steve Hall and Doppelmayr site supervisor Ben Bowey.

The most recent project brings NZSki’s investment at The Remarks to $90m over the past 10 years — other projects are the Curvey Basin chairlift, opened in 2014, a new base building, opened in 2015, and a new Sugar Bowl chairlift, opened in 2020.

Physical work, led by lift-builders Doppelmayr, earthworks contractor Base Contracting and Naylor Love, responsible for ‘‘parking building’’, had taken about eight months.

Subject to sign-off — and sufficient snow — the lift’s expected to be in play for next Saturday’s planned opening day.

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