New Zealand’s popular ski areas have received the green light for winter, providing all the Level 2 guidelines of physical distancing, contact tracing and increased cleaning and sanitation requirements are met. The large areas over which ski areas operate means there is no cap on the total number of people allowed on the ski area, providing physical distancing can be managed.
NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson, Cardrona Alpine Resorts general manager Bridget Legnavsky and Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd chief executive Jono Dean have been working with the Government on behalf of the industry, to clarify how ski resorts could operate under Level 2 requirements. “We’re looking forward to bringing people safely back to the mountains so we will be ready for opening in about a month,” says Paul.
Ski resort restaurants and hospitality facilities will be subject to hospitality requirements. The Restaurant Association of NZ is working through the finer details of this with the government but Paul says it’s possible counter service may be allowed, although obviously not buffet or self-service.
“While ski area visitor numbers are likely to be down to about 25 to 40 percent of normal numbers under Level 2, it’s very important to get Kiwis travelling again and open up the ability for the likes of Aucklanders to fly.
“Forty percent of our ski area visitors are international, mostly Australians,” he says.
The indication from Australian ski wholesalers is that Aussies are still very keen to get to New Zealand to ski, says Paul.
Coronet Peak will open daily from late June with popular First Tracks and two nights of night skiing running through July and August. The Remarkables will open daily from early July for two weeks during the New Zealand school holidays and then on the weekends at a minimum. Mount Hutt opens from mid-to-late June, three days a week initially, scaling up in early July to at least five, all weather and conditions allowing.
Destination Queenstown interim chief executive Ann Lockhart says news that the ski areas could open brought optimism amongst the uncertainty for the future. Destination Queenstown’s attention was now turned entirely to ensuring the resort’s winter proposition was communicated to New Zealanders, who make up a third of all visitors to the resort. “Our vibrant and diverse hospitality scene is part of what makes Queenstown so unique in New Zealand,” says Ann. “We embrace this and it’s at the heart of our winter proposition alongside the mountains, our iconic activities and the great outdoors we’re surrounded by.”