New Editorial Page
September 9 2019 by Paul Anderson CEO, NZ Ski
2019- THE TALE OF TWO VERY DIFFERENT SKI FIELDS
Every season in the ski industry is different and the 2019 season sure hasn’t disappointed in this regard. A warm wet May followed by a cold dry June made for some tough early operating conditions for both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, with historically low snowfalls to start the season.
The positive aspect of these early-season conditions is that they gave us a chance to demonstrate the benefits of the huge investment we’ve made in our grooming and snowmaking systems. Coronet Peak has the largest automated snowmaking installation in the Southern Hemisphere with 215 snow guns and The Remarkables has an arsenal of 97 snow guns with a further 37 to be deployed on new trails in Sugar Basin this coming summer. Add to this the capability of satellite snow depth measurement in our groomers and you’ve got the very best slopes management possible.
I’ve got to take my hat off to our snowmaking and grooming teams, who were our heroes delivering fantastic conditions at the beginning of the season in very trying circumstances. One of the biggest issues was the gossip in town about whether or not Coronet Peak in particular was going to remain open in late July. However, we truly demonstrated what we can achieve even when mother nature doesn’t quite play ball.
It was a tale of two mountains in the first half of the season with Coronet Peak’s visitor numbers down overall offset by growth at The Remarkables with guests chasing the snow at higher altitudes. In the past month with good natural snowfall on both mountains, we’ve seen decent growth in visitor numbers compared to last year. Throughout the season, guests who pre-booked their holidays have come and enjoyed all that Queenstown has to offer however there’s no doubt that we lacked some of the early-season epic snow photos that attract more casual visitors; some of these visitors may have opted to head to the islands whereas some Aussies might have chosen to ski closer to home. As a result of this, we’re likely to see overall visitor numbers down on the record set in 2018.
The investment we’ve made in Coronet Peak and The Remarkables has provided some insulation from what could have been a tough winter for the wider business community, and we’re committed to continuing to invest in our ski areas for the benefit of both our business as well as the wider community.
In the coming summer we’ve got a major investment at The Remarkables with the installation of the replacement Sugar Chairlift, allowing for the creation of 2.5km of new trails and snowmaking. Over at Coronet Peak, we’re excited about the start of our summer operations this December (https://www.coronetpeak.co.nz/summer/) using our new Coronet Peak Telemix lift and offering mountain-biking, guided hikes and sightseeing. These investments continue our commitment to ensuring our two ski areas on Queenstown’s doorstep offer the best possible experience to both locals and visitors to the region and contribute to the ongoing success of Queenstown as a destination.
CEO, NZ Ski