Cardrona Alpine Resorts (Cardrona and Treble Cone) general manager Bridget Legnavsky confirmed last week that her team were preparing both Cardrona and Treble Cone mountains for opening in late June, and that they would welcome the possibility of trans-Tasman travel.
As of last Tuesday, May 5, Australia and New Zealand have a formal agreement in place to establish a trans-Tasman “travel bubble” as soon as it is safe to allow flights between the two countries.
Legnavsky said Australian visitors made up about 30 per cent of Cardrona and Treble Cone’s business. “We would love to see that happen,” Legnavsky said - but only if it was deemed safe to do so by both governments. “We don't want to go backwards,” she added.
Despite the initial agreement made last Tuesday, both the Australian and New Zealand prime ministers stressed that travel between the two countries without a 14-day quarantine period would not happen imminently.
Jacinda Ardern said the two countries could negotiate a reopening because there were a lot of similarities in the way they had managed the pandemic, but - given the success both nations had seen in reducing the infection rate - neither would move too quickly to open travel. Scott Morrisson added that travel between Australia and New Zealand would not start up until there was safe travel between Australian states.
In the meantime, Cardrona Alpine Resorts’ plan to “expect level two, but hope for level one” is underwriting preparations for the upcoming season, as they set up both mountains to start slow and then scale up operations as the environment allows.
Legnavsky said that, at level two, “it's likely that only locals will be able to visit - around 25 per cent of normal skier numbers. We're working out what facilities we will open to reflect that business level.”
She added that there would be a more limited set of facilities; not all lifts would be operating, and although all the cafes were likely to be open to ensure there was enough space, “the offering inside might be different.”
The team are also developing systems to support physical distancing, cleanliness and hygiene - particularly around rental equipment - and contact tracing.
With both mountains currently set to open on June 26 and June 27, Legnasvky acknowledged that they still had “plenty of time” to prepare.
Read edition 974 of the Wānaka Sun here.