SKI SEASON ‘OE’ERS ON THE WAY

SKI SEASON ‘OE’ERS ON THE WAY 1000 571 The Flyer Magazine

SKI SEASON ‘OE’ERS

ON THE WAY

Home sprouting has been making a comeback globally and the Wakatipu seems to be no exception with what appears to be a resurgence of interest locally.

Garden centres around the country were rushed off their feet in a post-Covid lockdown craze of grow your own vegetables and it seems sprouting now may be proving to be a welcome addition.

Almost any grain or seed can be successfully sprouted and local and international experts say sprouts are proving to be a popular, cheap and nutrient dense way to pack a healthy punch into meals.

Local ski area operators are working hard to attract good staff for this winter amid predictions of good snowfalls and keen Kiwis ready to take to the slopes.

NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson says they’ve already seen a spike in job applications for both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables with hundreds of applications rolling in by early March, much sooner than normal. The company needs about 500 staff for its two Queenstown ski areas this year, compared with 450 last year, and the usual 900 required under open borders.

Cranking up for a great winter.

General manager of Cardrona and Treble Cone ski areas Bridget Legnavsky says she too has had a good response and while applications are down by 70 percent compared with a normal year, she usually gets 100 percent more applications than she needs. Some 800 staff will be needed across Cardrona and Treble Cone, compared with 1200 in a normal year.

Normally they wouldn’t even start advertising until April or May but with the new border restricted environment ski areas have combined around the country to try and entice Kiwis to take their ‘OE’ as a ski season worker this year.

Local ski areas are also working together lobbying the government and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment in an effort to secure managed isolation beds for critical workforce staff needed to be brought in from overseas. “We’re short of groomer drivers, snowsports instructors, as Kiwis like their lessons, and also skilled lift technicians,” says Paul. “We have some of those staff lined up already but we’re awaiting information as to which roles we can sponsor and whether there will be managed isolation beds for them when they get here,” says Paul. He estimates the New Zealand ski industry will need in excess of 100 managed isolation beds to get skilled overseas staff into the country and ensure that ski areas run seamlessly. About a quarter of NZSki’s overseas staff are still in Queenstown on work visas and going through a real period of uncertainty with their visa renewals, which the company is talking to the government about as well, he says.

Naturally, as with all tourism operators, ski areas are very keen to see a trans-Tasman bubble open up as soon as possible. “We’re not expecting it in time, but we have contingency plans in place to be ready to resource up,” he says. “We’d have to up our numbers of instructors and food and beverage staff in a very short time.” Locally, Destination Queenstown and the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce have been lobbying the government for the necessary MIQ (managed isolation and quarantine) beds.

“We certainly know we’re in for a busy season based on last year,” says Bridget. Numbers were pleasantly surprising, even with closed borders. “We were still 25 percent down, but not as much as expected,” she says. “Normally 60 percent of our guests are Kiwis, but last year that was 75 percent so it was a real uplift.”

She’s also pretty confident that there will be a few decades of really good snowfalls ahead after ski areas have consulted climate scientists.