The Emperor Penguin March
June 22 2020 by Scott Stevens
The Emperor Penguin March
Predicting the weather is far from an exact science. You can listen to a meteorologist who is wrong 60% of the time or use other indicators from nature. I base my winter snowfall predictions on the time Emperor Penguins march to their breeding grounds in Antarctica. It was early April this year, a good ski season should therefore be had. But given the reality of the last few months, I am just grateful for any ski season at all.
As Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Treble Cone and Cardrona prepare to open we should acknowledge and be thankful for local private ownership of these strategic assets. Can you imagine if Air NZ still owned NZSki, or Cardrona was still in Aussie hands? Do you think they would be pulling out all the stops to open to local and domestic custom with uncertainty around every corner? I think not. It is pretty darn expensive preparing a ski field for opening day. Ski Season 2020 could have been mothballed completely if left to outside forces. That would have been an unmitigated disaster for Queenstown.
Local ski field owners who are part of our community understand the value and importance of this economic asset and driver of winter business to Queenstown. Just like the trading partners who paid their bills on time these last few months, and locals who chose to spend their precious money in our shops and restaurants, the efforts of the “big end of town”, as big business is sometimes called by small business, should also be remembered when the dust settles on this monumental economic shakedown.
Without a ski season we would all be in a far less optimistic mood. The economic benefit of the ski industry spreads far beyond the slopes. Retailers, hospitality, and accommodation providers rely on those mountains being open. Every business in town does directly or indirectly. So next time you accuse the big end of being all about self-interest, think again.
Not only do ski fields open for business give the town an economic lifeline, but also the social occasion only skiing and snowboarding can offer. The morale boost of being on the mountain - sharing the passion, re-acquainting ourselves with old friends, talking, connecting, and supporting. The prospect of uncrowded powder days. This should see far more locals than ever before bringing the old ski gear out of the shed. If business is not quite as good as we would hope, at least we have Coronet Peak to escape to for a few hours. On a beautiful blue bird winters day, stopping to look out over the Wakatipu and taking in a big deep breath of fresh mountain air. I think we all need that as much as dollars in cash registers.