Remarkables revamp to ease congestion

The new Curvey basin six-seater chairlift is proving popular.
The new Curvey basin six-seater chairlift is proving popular.

NZSki's new boss has recognised it's cold comfort for frustrated skiers and boarders turned away from The Remarkables when the car park is chocka.

The Remarkables new Curvey basin chairlift is proving almost too popular and on busy days NZSki has closed the access road and imposed a one-out, one-in vehicle policy when its 625 spaces fill up.

At the weekend the company apologised on its website when record numbers turned out for freshies.

''[We] understand and are sorry for the frustration of those who couldn't come straight up. Our ongoing developments are really exciting, but come with challenges in this alpine environment.''

NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson said the Remarkables development of the new base building would start at the end of this season.

The design by Michael Wyatt Architects, conceptually reminiscent of Coronet Peak, will sit at the bottom of the existing learners' slope beside the Curvey station.

''We're starting to go out to the market to get some pricing for some major items. It's a different design to Coronet Peak but functionally similar.

''Anecdotally the feedback we're getting [on Curvey] is fantastic. Even on the busiest days we have had queue times of around 10 minutes.''

However, on at least three of the busiest days this year the expanded car park, up to 625 spaces from 550, has hit capacity, causing frustration for guests.

Skiers and boarders have been presented with the option to park at the bottom of the access road and buy an $18 return bus ticket, which is also valid for central Queenstown.

Anderson said there was scope for more parking spaces but new concessions would be needed from the Department of Conservation. This season there were three days so far when the car park was full and a one out, one in system was needed. Guests should car pool if possible, he said.

''What we are seeing with the new lift and huge increase in popularity of the ski area is a lot more people are opting to drive. That has put pressure on our car park. It's cold comfort to some of our guests when they arrive.

''We thought about the shuttle services from the bottom but we are already running a 13-bus fleet from the Snow Centre.

The ski field is at capacity. Plus, there are other bus companies up there as well. Really the main driver for us as well as capacity is the safety. We know we have capacity for 625, we have to be mindful of safety. It's cold comfort, it's not a nice thing to turn up for a day's skiing and for other people to beat you to it.''

Anderson also said running a ski field at capacity was a nice problem to have and continuing developments include reviewing the transport strategy and car parking flow.

''It's encouraging more people to drive, we have made it more comfortable and created more demand. It's fantastic for us and it's an issue we have to manage.''

Next season, the entire access road should be sealed as part of the $45 million investment including the $20m basement building, the new lift and associated infrastructure.

The three-level base building will replace the cramped, ageing facility built in the 1980s.

The Southland Times