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Revised Level 2 guidance throws unexpected lifeline to ski fields around the country

Winter is coming and ski fields are looking forward to the possibility of reopening under Level 2 or Level 1 restrictions.

File picture shows Whakapapa Ski Field on Mount Ruapehu, with chair lifts in the foreground and Mount Ngauruhoe in the background. Source: istock.com

The new guidelines for Level 2 were announced today, throwing an unexpected lifeline to ski fields around the country.

Domestic travel will be reopened, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying tourism is a valid reason for travel.

Under the original Level 2 guidelines, non-essential domestic travel was still blocked.

It's a sprinkling of good news coming shortly after mountains around the country welcomed an autumn snowfall.

NZ Ski operates Mt Hutt, the Remarkables and Coronet Peak ski fields in the South Island. CEO Paul Anderson is embracing the latest development.

"We’re excited that safe inter-regional travel will mean we may be able to welcome the domestic market back to our resorts earlier than we thought," he told 1 NEWS.

"This is really positive news for not only us but our local communities."

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But a final decision on the relaxed restrictions won’t be made until Monday. Source: 1 NEWS

Mt Ruapehu Ltd's chief executive Jono Dean says the move to Alert Level 2 is "exciting news for the entire ski industry".

"We’re hopeful for the winter season ahead and opening both Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields," he told 1 NEWS today.

"But we still have a lot of catch-up work to do due to the forced early closure of the summer season by Covid-19 and reduced staffing levels."

Meanwhile, outdoor gatherings have been reduced from 500 people to 100 people.

Ski fields are still looking into how that will impact them and say they're working with the Government on the best ways to work safely under the revised Level 2 guidance.

"New Zealanders have done a terrific job at flattening our curve and we’re excited to be able to share our mountains with guests again this season once we reach Level 2," Mr Anderson says.

It's still not known yet when New Zealand will shift to Level 2, with the Government set to make a decision on Monday.

Mt Ruapehu and NZ Ski are still waiting for that verdict before finalising the 2020 ski season.

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Our borders might remain closed, but Kiwis will be able to holiday outside their regions. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Ardern says the reduced level wouldn't come into force until at least 48 hours after the announcement, meaning the earliest the country could reopen would be 11.59pm on Wednesday.

That announcement will be aired live on TVNZ1 and on the 1 NEWS website and Facebook page.