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Exciting New Zealand developments for snow and ice lovers

From the Editor's Mailbox - 06/06/08

Night skiing and riding at Snow Park NZ, approval of gondola and new Roaring Meg Resort for Cardrona Valley, facilities for corporates to host private groups at Mt Hutt, and Ice sculpting at New Zealand Mountain Festival in Wanaka – all these exciting developments announced in May 2008.

Snow Park NZ lighting up for night sessions this season

Snow Park NZ will be the first and only resort in Lake Wanaka to offer night skiing and riding this winter season providing visitors with more time on the mountain and a unique experience on snow under floodlights.

Pro rider Shaun White on the wall ride at Snow Park NZ
Pro rider Shaun White on the wall ride at Snow Park NZ
Photo credit: Snow Park NZ
Click here to view a larger version

Eight floodlights have been installed across the terrain park allowing skiers and riders full access to the east-side Box-run, with many intermediate and beginner boxes, rails and jumps on Tuesday and Friday evenings from 5pm to 9pm throughout July and August.

To coincide with the launch of night riding Mountain Dew Night Sessions, amateur snowboard rail jam series, will be held on six nights throughout the season – culminating in an invitational finale. Cash prizes are up for grabs after each round with finale winners taking home grand prizes of $6,000 for men and $3,000 for women.

Sam Lee, Snow Park NZ manager is delighted to be able to offer snow sports enthusiasts more time on the mountain. "For skiers and riders who are time short during the day, they can pop up to Snow Park in the evening to get their turns in. Being on snow at night under flood lights is quite thrilling, and with relatively uncrowded slopes and a hot meal available in the Woolshed it will be a great alternative Friday night out," he said.

The Woolshed Restaurant and Bar offers an excellent viewing platform across the park for night sessions, serving hot tasty food to keep riders going on the cold winter nights. Live music from local bands and djs will keep the Woolshed buzzing on Tuesday and Friday nights throughout the season.

Night skiing/riding is available either as an add-on to a day pass or as an individual night riding pass. Individual night riding tickets are just $35 for adults and $20 for youth. Night riding is inclusive for all season pass holders.

Held on Thursday nights from 5pm the Mountain Dew Night Sessions will take a jam format for riders to earn points throughout the series. The Thursday competition nights include 19 June, 3, 17 July and 7, 28 August with the invitational finale set for Friday September 5.

Visitors keen to make a night of it can book in to the on-mountain accommodation; the luxury apartments and backpacker bunkrooms are now open for bookings.

For further information visit

Cardrona Valley Gondola Approved

The Lee family in the Cardrona Valley received approval in May to build the first gondola in New Zealand to access a ski resort.

The $16.6million gondola project will service Snow Park NZ, Waiorau Snow Farm and a third planned ski area, Roaring Meg Resort.

The 3.8km-long gondola will ascend 975 vertical metres from the Cardrona Valley floor to the ski facilities on the Pisa Range. It will transport up to 1000 people per hour in gondola cars each holding eight passengers.

"This is a landmark decision for the future of snow holidays in New Zealand", said Sam Lee Snow Park NZ manager. "We have world class facilities available and can now deliver the whole package to ensure safety, ease of passage and an enjoyable mountain experience to our visitors. It is immensely important that we can develop not only the ski fields but the means of access to them. There are so many benefits. We are thrilled," he said.

The proposed 300-hectare Roaring Meg Resort will offer downhill skiing and an expansive beginners' area. With five chairlifts and the longest run covering 1800m the resort will exponentially add to the freestyle and cross country snow sports already on offer.

The approved proposal, submitted in July 2007, carries very few amendments relating to the engineering, design and environmental aspects. The consent's key conditions focus on the development of public walking tracks around the top gondola station and across the valley. All of these have been agreed to.

The plans will now include the creation of an ecological walk around the top gondola station and to link with the Thouy's Gully DOC track. There will be information cards in each of the gondola cars educating passengers about the history and important ecological sites along the gondola path. The plans also include the Cardrona Valley trail connecting Cardrona township to Wanaka crossing the Lee family property.

Mt Hutt perfect for private groups this winter

A new function room at Mt Hutt offering a relaxed and informal atmosphere as well as stunning views over the ski area is the perfect winter destination for private groups visiting the slopes.

The upstairs area of Huber's Hutt, just 90 minutes drive from Christchurch, has been transformed into a corporate function room catering for groups of up to 100, ideal for the conference and incentive market.

Available throughout the snow season (June to October), Mt Hutt Ski Area Manager Dave Wilson said the room was always a great space for groups to use as their base while enjoying a fun day out on the slopes.

"In response to demand for a private area where corporates can host people on the mountain, we've developed the facilities to look after our visiting groups from the moment they arrive on the mountain to the minute they head home," he said. "We can organise everything from rental and storage through to ticketing and catering, so people have more time either enjoying the high country hospitality and scenery, or skiing or boarding on amazing terrain."

Mt Hutt's diverse terrain suits skiers and riders of all abilities and is perfect for groups of people with varying skills and experience.

"More experienced skiers and riders can head for the steeper challenges of the double black diamond runs of the South Face, and intermediates can take on some of the widest groomed trails in the country. Those new to the slopes will find that learning to ski or ride has become much easier with a 140m magic carpet, specifically designed lessons and equipment, and gentle learner and novice slopes," said Mr Wilson.

New developments at Mt Hutt this year include a new mini terrain park, designed to make progression from novice through to intermediate level easy and fun, and the addition of twenty three new snow guns.

"Expanding our snowmaking arsenal means skiers and riders will enjoy more consistent main trail coverage for longer. The new snow guns work quickly and efficiently, improving start up time so that when conditions are right, we're straight onto it," said Mr Wilson.

Mt Hutt's season opening is scheduled for Saturday 14 June.

For more information, or contact Dave Wilson on 0274 386 422

For private group bookings email Jessica Marr -

Ice sculpting at New Zealand Mountain Festival

Organisers of the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival are calling for sculptors to sharpen their tools and unleash their creative flair for the inaugural Wanaka Ice Art Championships this July.

Individuals or teams of up to four will be given blocks of ice to transform into winter masterpieces for the opening night of the five-day festival. The sculptured work will remain on display at the Lake Wanaka Centre for festival-goers and the general public to enjoy, ‘natural ice melt' permitting.

Festival director Mark Sedon would like to encourage sculptors, carpenters, artists or even groups of friends to start designing their works of art and enter. "This is a new fun component of the festival and it would be great to see people giving it a go. We have the perfect alpine setting to inspire and craft ice artwork, it's great to witness teams transforming a block of ice into transiently imaginative works," he said.

Each team will be given a block of ice, 100cm x 50cm x 40cm to carve out their pre-prepared design. Sculptures need to be based on clearly recognisable objects or beings, whether real or imaginary, in-line with the festival theme of adventurous sports and lifestyles.

The finished works will be judged on technical and artistic criteria by a jury of local personalities. Points will be awarded for accuracy, proportional aspects of the sculpted work, degree of difficulty, creativity and composition of work. Teams are encouraged to select appropriate colour and placement of lights for the final display.

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony Friday 4 July, with a first place prize of $500 cash and special prizes also to be awarded.

Entrants should contact event organisers now to register their interest. Entry fees and designs must be submitted by June 25. The competition starts at 9am on Friday July 4 and ends at 7pm when judging gets underway. The competition will run subject to a minimum number of three entries and a maximum of 10.

The New Zealand Mountain Film Festival runs from 4 to 8 July. It also features over 40 screenings of adventure and environmental films, speaker platforms, photographic exhibitions and a gear trade show.

Tickets go on sale at the beginning of June.

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