What Level 2 means for ski resorts: Mountains open Wednesday

The change to Level 2 from midnight for regions outside of Auckland has given ski operators a fresh burst of optimism, with some snowfields saying they'll be open and ready for Wednesday morning.

While skiers in Tamaki Makaurau will not be able to cross city boundaries, the rest of New Zealand is free to travel domestically for tourism and recreation.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) which operate Whakapapa and Tūroa ski areas say they have been able to maintain the ski area during Level 3 for a quick return to operation.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) which operate Whakapapa and Tūroa ski areas say they have been able to maintain the ski area during Level 3 for a quick return to operation. Photo / Supplied

"Alert Level 2 is a game changer for us at Mt Ruapehu as we can all return to the maunga," says RAL boss, Jono Dean. "Although, unfortunately Aucklanders will have to wait a bit longer."

This is an obvious disappointment, not only for snow-sports enthusiasts but the mountain as well. The city, which remains under Level 4 restrictions with a ban on non-essential travel, is the largest feeder of the ski resorts.

There will still be reduced capacity on visitors under Level 2 distancing requirements. This is capped at just over 2500 guests for Tūroa and 3000 at Whakapapa.

"While this is down on what we would consider a 'busy' weekend day, which can attract up to 5,000 guests," says Dean. "These capacity limits sit comfortably above our average daily numbers."

Preparations under way for resuming operations at the Remarkables Ski Field in Queenstown ahead of the move to Alert level 2 tomorrow. Photo / James Allan

In the South Island, NZSki says their three ski resorts - Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Mt Hutt - will be open from Wednesday, albeit with restrictions.

NZSki's CEO Paul Anderson welcomed the "return to a sense of normality" and looked forward to a return to the snow this week.

Scanning "gateways" on access roads for Covid Tracer apps and 50 person caps on facilities such as cafes will be an obvious difference.

These slopes will be open for midweek skiing: Whitestar Express chair on Cardrona. Photo / Supplied

Nearby Cardrona and Treble Cone will also be opening under new restrictions.

While at Level 2, Cardrona is asking visitors to avoid queues at the cafes and storage areas. Instead they urge visitors to ski from their cars, "use it for shelter, to rest and have a picnic" - and give plenty of space to other visitors while on the mountain.

For club fields, which can have some very temperamental conditions, the early lift of Level 3 restrictions has been welcomed.

Porters will be re-opening as of Wednesday morning with distancing restrictions.

"The coverage on the mountain looks great and we are excited to welcome everyone back for some epic spring skiing," said the Resort.

Mt Dobson has welcomed the move but will be making a decision on opening from tomorrow morning.

"Wednesday around 6am we will make a weather call and if it is good we will be open."

In Hanmer the Springs and Thermal Pools will be closed until Monday next week, as the spa and rock pools are still to finish maintenance work started under Level 3.

All resorts are expecting visitors to practice good hygiene, patience and wear face coverings on their resorts.

While Ruapehu and other mountains remain off limits to Aucklanders under Level 4, Northlanders will not be able to travel through the city to go ski. Under current cross-boundary travel exemptions, Northlanders can only transfer through Auckland city for business or essential reasons.

Guide for skiers at Level 2

  • Keep your distance from other skiers
  • Scan in on arrival using the Covid Tracer App
  • Wear a mask or face covering on shuttles, public transport and while indoors
  • Wear a mask or face covering while in queues and on the chairlifts
  • If you're not felling well, don't go skiing

Check alert level restrictions and Ministry of Health advice before travel. covid19.govt.nz

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