The 2021 ski season in New Zealand was supposed to be a comeback after last winter’s challenges, but the industry is not having much luck so far.
Firstly, fears amidst the corona pandemic led to extended shutdowns of international travel. These restrictions forced last-minute cancellations from Australian–school holidaymakers. This year’s June vacation time would be a major boost in morale and profits, but instead, many resorts fell quiet.
This setback has been coupled with another, perhaps more serious, problem: the limited snowpack. Usually, ski fields in New Zealand make do with the region’s typically unreliable snowfall with artificial snowmaking, but this year it’s just been too warm. This June has been the hottest since records began, with temperatures 4°F higher than average.
“We wouldn’t have been able to deliver a great experience to a mass amount of people,” said Bridget Legnavsky, general manager of Cardrona and Treble Cone skifields, trying to look on the bright side of the June cancellations.
A couple of weeks earlier, Legnavsky announced a postponement of Cardrona opening, days before the planned opening date, due to a snow base of just 6 inches. The recommended minimum of snow base is around 20 inches, and double that for a resort as rocky as the Southern Alps.
Despite the setbacks, the New Zealand ski fields are staying positive about prospects for the rest of winter. “Winter weather is on its way,” Nigel Kerr said optimistically for Cardrona Alpine Resort, another skifield seeing a delayed start to the season.