Following years of planning, the first diggers and workers from Base Contractors arrived at the beginning of this week to start an extensive earthworks programme.
Working alongside the NZSki team, they have started clearing old lift bases, snowmaking equipment and snow fences to make way for the development.
NZSki announced in October this year that it was investing heavily in the new six-seat, high-speed detachable Curvey Basin chairlift at the ski area, alongside increased snow making capacity, expansion of the learners’ area, new trail development and the re-alignment and expansion of its car parking.
The new 1.2km Curvey Basin lift will begin at the bottom of the expanded learners’ slopes at 1600m and rise to a top terminal at 1900m above sea level, just below the ridgeline at the south head of the Rastus Burn, known as Curvey Basin.
The Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence said the weeks before Christmas would be spent digging in the first 20 of 52 snow gun hydrant ‘pits’ on new trails and installing an underground pipe that will draw water from Lake Alta to a new pump house above the existing Alta Chair top station.
Mr Lawrence said the new lift was currently being manufactured to precise engineering specifications in the United States by Leitner-Poma of America.
“A six-strong Leitner-Poma crew will arrive in Queenstown on December 29 to start work on the installation of the new chair and that team will remain on site until it’s fully-tested and commissioned by June 1 next year,” he said.
Work post-Christmas will focus on completing the trail development to enable easy access directly to the Curvey Basin bottom lift terminal by skiers and snowboarders.
Mr Lawrence said the NZSki team would be on site through most of the Christmas period to work to the tight programme.
“It’s such an exciting project though we’re all happy to be working away over summer up there in our stunning alpine environment to create the ‘wow’ factor for guests when they come up for their first ski or snowboard of winter,” he said.
Mr Lawrence stressed that public access to the mountain would remain in place over summer but with “understandable” restrictions in place for health and safety reasons.
“We know so many visitors love to come up here to walk or climb over the summer months and we’re very happy for them to still do that, but we do ask that they please respect all closure lines in place on any given day,” he said.
“Our top car parks will be closed so all parking will be in the bottom car park only and we would like visitors to read and refer to all signage on site, and most importantly do not cross any construction areas especially when we have heavy machinery on the mountain.
“They should also be aware of potentially increased traffic on the road over the coming months.”
Curvey Basin lift FAST FACTS:
· Curvey Basin lift 1.2km long
· 52 new snow guns will be a mix of tower and fan guns
· 1.6km of new trails a minimum of 30m wide
· New lift will transport up to 2,400 people an hour
· 300m of road re-alignment
· Creation of new car parks