Weather makes poor ski season

00:24, Aug 05 2014
broken river
WORST SEASON: Most of Canterbury's club fields, including Broken River pictured here, remain closed as they await a decent snowfall.

Canterbury skifields are experiencing their worst season in years, forcing many to cancel lucrative bookings and events.

Most of the region's club fields remain closed as they await a decent snowfall. The bigger ski areas, including Mt Hutt and Porters, are open, but they have relied on snow-making machines.

Last week's warm and windy weather was a further blow to the fields.

Mt Cheeseman mountain manager Cam Lill said it was "pretty gutting" to watch what little snow the mountain did have melt away last week.

With just 15 centimetres of snow, the field is closed. It needed at least 40cm.

Lill said he was optimistic the area would open this year and the upcoming forecast gave him some hope.


"Until the snow's on the ground it's anybody's guess what it will do."

Mt Cheeseman's 70-bed ski lodge had been fully booked during last month's school holidays, so all bookings had to be cancelled.

Broken River Ski Area marketing officer Claire Newell said she could not remember the last time the club was still closed in early August. It usually opens in early July.

Staff were on standby, unable to work, and it had to refund money for bookings in its lodges.

The club had to cancel a camp and competition for 10 to 17-year- olds this weekend. A week-long ski event next week for about 40 people was also in doubt.

"We are all waiting. Everybody is waiting and hoping."

It needed 50cm to open and it probably had about 20cm, Newell said.

Low snow years put financial pressure on the clubs.

Broken River did have a small nest egg to get it through lean years, Newell said.

Mt Lyford Alpine Resort co- owner Doug Simpson said the area lost half of its 50cm snow base last week but a 10cm snowfall on Sunday was enough to keep it open.

The intermediate and learners' slopes had a decent amount of snow.

The area opened about month ago, but has been closed half that time.

"We will survive. We've been through seasons like this before," Simpson said.

Mt Hutt Ski Area manager James McKenzie said the field was closed for five days last week while being battered by winds of up to 210kmh.

Mt Hutt now had the best conditions of the season after a late weekend snowfall.

Porters Ski Area marketing manager Guy Nurse said it had been a lean snow year. Making snow had been the difference between operating and not.

The Press