TODAY |

Luxury chairlift planned for Mt Hutt ski field, a first for New Zealand

A luxury eight-seater chairlift is set to take double the number of people up Mt Hutt next winter in what NZSki has announced will be a New Zealand first for skiers.

Planned design for the base terminal of the Nor'west Express Source: Supplied

Sustained growth in the ski area over the past five years has prompted NZSki to make the investment into the chairlift system.

The Nor'west Express will replace the current Quad chair and Mt Hutt Ski Area manager James McKenzie says it will improve how guests access the mountain.

“The ride time of the Nor’west Express is only two minutes and it has capacity to carry up to 3000 people an hour. The Quad currently takes at-least seven minutes to reach the top and can only move around 1500 people an hour on a good day so we’re excited that our guests will be able to enjoy more time on the slopes with this new addition," McKenzie says.

Mt Hutt becomes first major ski field in southern hemisphere to reopen after Covid-19

“This lift will follow the same path up the mountain as the Quad currently does so will provide the best access to our terrain parks. This means we expect to see less demand for our Summit Six chairlift and some of our upper mountain trails at peak times."

Each chair weighs nearly a tonne and is equipped with a chair swing dampener, meaning the lift will be more stable and operate at higher speeds in windy conditions. A cable de-icing and night-drive system coupled with fully automated in-terminal chair parking will drastically improve start-up times on icy mornings.

“It will be much more robust in variable weather, allowing us to get up and running faster after new snow and to operate in stronger winds, which in turn will reduce our closed days during the season and provide added value to our guests,” McKenzie says.

Work is set to start on the new Nor’west Express lift at the end of October and continue through summer. Construction in time for the 2021 season is subject to regulatory approvals and Covid-19 restrictions.