Interesting Associated Press story by Nick Perry on lack of snow in New Zealand
Winter has rolled into its third month in New Zealand, and Nick Jarman says he’s going stir crazy as he stares out at the driving rain on the small ski area he manages in the Southern Alps.
The Craigieburn Valley Ski Area is one of several areas that haven’t opened for a single day this season, and some fear there may not be enough snow to open at all this year — something Jarman says has never happened during his 30 years carving turns on the mountain’s slopes.
Ski operators throughout New Zealand are feeling the effects of the country’s warmest start to the Southern Hemisphere winter since record-keeping began in 1909. And while one bad season doesn’t prove a trend, it comes at a time when scientists say the country’s snow pack and glaciers are melting at an alarming rate due to climate change.
The country’s largest ski areas have managed to open only because they’ve invested in equipment to make their own snow, which they’ve been doing this year in unprecedented quantities. For now, at least, that’s helped protect the nation’s reputation as a winter play land, one that each year attracts more than 60,000 skiers and snowboarders from Australia alone from June to August when it is winter south of the equator.
At Queenstown’s Coronet Peak, 200 snow guns have been blazing day and night whenever the temperature dips a little below freezing. Those guns have turned enough water to fill 100 Olympic-size swimming pools into a white blanket that’s remained on the main trails even on days when some skiers have taken to wearing t-shirts.
But New Zealand also has a tradition of small ski areas that rely entirely on natural snow, and many are facing steep financial losses this year. Typically, the areas are run as nonprofits. They are kept open not only by tourist dollars but also from the work of enthusiastic volunteers. Operators of these areas say they can’t afford to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in snow-making equipment.
Jarman says Craigieburn employs about 10 staff but can only pay them once the area opens. He says it’s not just the ski areas that are suffering, but also the local ski rental stores, the gas stations, even the bakeries. He says he’s been refunding money to tourists who have booked ski and accommodation packages, and the season is putting a strain on Craigieburn’s finances.
“It’s going to be hard, really hard. We don’t have the extra money to spend on maintenance,” he says. “We’re not living on caviar and salmon.” Read more at SNOW.
Ski Gypsy Keri Reid tells us about skiing at Coronet Peak near Queenstown, New Zealand. Here’s her insider take from wanderlustandlickstick.com
“I still find myself explaining to people that summer in the Northern Hemisphere is winter in the Southern Hemisphere. For the skiing and snowboarding obsessed, it can be a truly magical discovery. Indeed, it’s true: in New Zealand (as in a number of other countries), it’s currently winter. Traveling between both hemispheres to experience cold climates again and again is known as chasing winter and it’s wonderful.
A couple posts back, I delved into the beauty and majesty of the Remarkables in Queenstown, New Zealand. Its sister mountain, Coronet Peak, lies just across the valley. On a clear day, I liked to think that my instructor friends could see me waving over at them from the Remarks (is there such a thing altitude insanity?).
Stunning views, modern base building, high-speed lifts and quality grooming only begin to describe The Peak. Similarly to The Remarkables, the mountain offers endless possibilities with it’s bare landscape—you could quite frankly ski/board anywhere there’s snow. That being said, Coronet differs from The Remarks in a number of ways:
It offers a vast amount of night skiing over the weekends, adding to it this season with an additional 80 lights amounting to 4 kilometers of newly brightened terrain.
- The access road is provides a far gentler journey. Completely paved, its a short 20 minutes from Queenstown.
- It’s larger, but also busier. Crowds fill the main trails, especially over the holiday periods, making it a far more challenging experience for novice skiers.
In my experience, Coronet Peak takes the cake for families and skiers/riders that enjoy groomed runs. The facilities are well suited to serving large groups of people ranging from complete beginners to strong intermediate skiers. Experts may be able to get some thrills, namely in the back bowls, but there are certainly more exciting resorts in New Zealand.
Coming up on July 26th, the sister mountains will be hosting the annual Peak to Peak race; an exhilarating five part race that can be completed individually or as a team. Totalling an epic 44 kilometers, participants ski/board, run, paddle and bike their way to glory.
It’s set to be one of the best snow seasons, so whether the snow gums of Falls Creek are beckoning or the Remarkables’ impressive mountain ranges near Queenstown tickle your fancy, Mr & Mrs Smith will get you there.
We even have a bunch of hotels in winter wonderlands with 30 per cent off. There’s no better time than now to don those long johns, sip mulled wine and set off on an alpine adventure.
Azur Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand
‘Mind-bogglingly beautiful’ is the only way to describe this corner of the world. Azur Lodge’s free-standing stone and silver beechwood villas offer uninterrupted views of Lake Wakatipu’s smooth expanse, all the way to the mountainous horizon of the Southern Alps. Aromatherapy burners and soothing essential oils in bedrooms set the mood for a relaxing respite amid nature. The double spa baths and rainforest showers hint at sexy soaping; floor-to-ceiling windows let the outdoors in. Choose number 5 for added seclusion. There’s no restaurant here, but breakfast is served from 7am to mid-afternoon and the sociable bar that pops up in the main lodge daily more than makes up for you having to venture into town – or just order in with the help of the concierge. View offer
QT Falls Creek, High Country, Australia
A change from its calmer summer self, Falls Creek in winter sees adventure-seekers flock to QT Falls Creek to play amid the freshly powdered scenery. Embrace your inner chef with the in-room kitchenettes or sample international cuisine at Bazaar, the hotel’s restaurant that dishes up Asian-influenced cuisine and organic salads. Stingray bar (only open in peak season) will entertain you with local musicians and DJ sets while you sip a hot toddy and nibble Mexican-inspired snacks. Almost all rooms have hot tubs stationed on private balconies for watching skiers slalom down the mountain – it’s not a bad setting for a glass of bubbly, either. East Tower rooms offer the best vistas, but for your own fireplace and a roomier Jacuzzi, the Two-Bedroom Penthouse E306 is a must. No need to pack the Uggs, there’s underfloor heating in these swish abodes, so your tootsies can get some air after being booted-up all day.
The Spire, Queenstown, New Zealand
Nestled in Queenstown’s CBD, rubbing shoulders with boutiques, bars and restaurants, you’ll find The Spire. Set a peaceful distance away from the excitement and crowds on the ski fields, this is the perfect destination to enjoy the town’s adventurous activities before retreating to sophisticated cosiness. This boutique sanctuary is home to 10 suites, each one graced with stone-clad fireplaces, private balconies and L’Occitane toiletries. Choose Room 6 for its exclusive views of the hotel’s namesake spire. Settle in at No5 Church Lane, the hotel’s restaurant and bar, where you’ll be plied with warming tipples and Thai tapas. View offer
Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand
Incredible alpine and lake views teamed with energy-saving practices and locally-sourced, seasonal and organic produce set Matakauri Lodge apart from the competition in Queenstown. Executive Chef Dale Gartland will let you order tailor-made creations on a daily-changing menu – he’ll even source fresh seafood and game on request. Deluxe Suites 7 or 9, located at each end of the lodge, give a bit of extra privacy, but really, every single one of the 11 rooms is blessed with flawless flashes of mesmerising mountains and velvety Lake Wakatipu – not to mention fireplaces and soaking tubs by floor-to-ceiling windows. Adventure is in the air here, so don’t forgot that instead of staring at the view, you should get amongst it – ski down Coronet Peak or jet-boat through ice-cold water that’s trickled down the Southern Alps. View offer
See the full list of stylish hotels in Australia and hotels in New Zealand with 30 per cent off, browse more of Mr & Mrs Smith’s stylish boutique hotels and offers or call the expert Travel Team. Smith guests enjoy exclusive extras at all stays.*
*Copy compiled by Kat Williams