Mid Canterbury’s biggest tourist drawcard opens tomorrow. With a 50cm snow base, cold temperatures for snow making and no covid restrictions in place, Mt Hutt skifield is ready for skiers and snowboarders.
Just a few weeks ago a decent season on the mountain looked highly unlikely.
But this week eight snow makers have been working flat out and a grooming team has been preparing the main slopes.
Mt Hutt Skifield operations manager James Urquhart said the main trails were looking good.
The skifield was opening just a week later than originally scheduled, which considering lockdown and the Covid-19 situation, was remarkable.
“It’s been a strange for months and we never really knew what was happening at the different levels.
“We’ve been planning, replanning and now we are opening at near normal levels, which is just fantastic.”
Mr Urquhart said the triple chairlift would not crank up yet, but the skifield would be open seven days from July 1, and five days a week through June, although that could increase to daily if things worked out.
He said extra help would come up from Queenstown to lend a hand this weekend, while more staff were recruited for the new season. “We have 70 staff at the moment and hope to take on around 150 more.”
Staff levels would be a bit lighter than previous seasons, he said.
Mt Hutt would run at capacity with around 3500 people on the slopes, double the number that would have been allowed under level 2.
“We will be implementing enhanced hygiene standards, encouraging guests to check-in with the Government Covid-19 app and have the ability to contact trace through our lift passes and RFID scanners,
“We’ve gone from zero to hero in a relatively short period, so we need the public to appreciate that it might take a little bit of time to get everything right.”
To encourage more Kiwis to give snowsports a go and to stay in Methven, Mt Hutt is offering cheaper day tickets on the mountain through local accommodation providers.
It is also continuing the popular kids under 10 ski for free initiative that offers a free day pass to kids under the age of 10 years old with each adult lift pass purchased.
Mr Urquhart said feedback from accommodation providers showed July bookings were filling.
By Mick Jensen