Flightless Kiwis are planning to skip their tropical getaways this winter and head to the slopes instead, Ohau Snow Fields owner-operator Mike Neilson says.
Ohau Snow Fields is scheduled to open on June 27, and Mr Neilson did not expect border restrictions would have a huge impact on the skifield this season.
“Eighty-five percent of the people who stay at the lodge and ski on the skifield are New Zealanders,” he said.
“We are looking forward to that Australasian travel because the next 10% come from Australia.”
Bookings at Lake Ohau Lodge had been good, he said.
“People [have been saying] had a holiday booked for Rarotonga or Bali or whatever, but I can’t go there, so I canned that and I’m coming skiing with you this year’.
“Kiwis are out there saying year because they are a small business’, which the Prime Minister has been pushing.”
The move to Level 1 and easing of restrictions was very timely, Mr Neilson said.
He hoped there would be a solid base of snow by June 27.
“We had 15cm [of snow] last Saturday, and we have been making snow flat out with all these cold temperatures, which has been brilliant,” Mr Neilson said.
“We are expecting the same system through on Sunday and Monday.
“Following that, there is a storm building and it’s a southwest front, so it should bring us some more natural snow early next week.”
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research meteorologist Ben Noll said the region was in for a warmer than usual winter, but that would not necessarily affect ski fields.
“As a whole, most of the country has been tracking pretty dry and that is something that we expect to continue,” Mr Noll said.
“Temperatures are most likely to be above average for the winter season, so when you combine those two things together . . . that is not exactly a great recipe for snow that sticks around.
“Of course, a snow season can be made if you get one big event right around the school holidays and everyone’s happy – they are all heading out to the fields and get a couple of good days of bluebird conditions.
“But that’s not expected to be the [overall] theme.”