Otago Community Trust (OCT) awarded a $140,000 grant to Snow Farm NZ Limited in its latest funding round.
The $140,000 grant will assist with the cost of constructing the proposed new community and schools’ hut (“Musterers’’ Hut'') planned for Tranquillity Basin, situated in the northern part of the Snow Farm. The hut is set to be positioned between the Meadow and Bob Lee Huts, accessible by 4WD over summer and snowmobile or a 5km ski over winter.
The project is estimated to cost around $650,000, and Snow Farm NZ has managed to raise three-quarters of the amount needed through grants. Earlier in the year, Snow Farm received a $160,770 grant from Central Lakes Trust for the project.
Snow Farm board chairman Samuel Belk said the challenge had been that both trusts had funded Snow Farm for the amount asked for – which left a shortfall
“We still have outstanding our most significant request to the Lotteries Board, and even if we get that we will probably have to raise money further, find some more cash or do something. Because we are coming up short this year, “ he said.
“If we get Lotteries, the grant will have to proceed, otherwise we will have to apply for more funds for next year.”
According to Snow Farm, the need for a large hut is immediate; 33 schools use Snow Farm every year, and the existing Meadow Hut is typically booked all winter, meaning school groups are sometimes turned away due to a lack of accommodation.
Belk said the new 36-bunk hut would include classroom space along with two kitchens, a utility shed and a toilet block.
“With over thirty schools annually, not to mention families, groups, and individuals, using our existing three smaller huts, the huts are at capacity. The Musterers’ Hut will provide a much better facility, especially for community groups and schools,” said Belk
We are passionate about offering a healthy, inexpensive, and beautiful way for anyone to enjoy and experience the winter in Otago, he said.
“This year despite Covid-19 we have had a fantastic season as Kiwis “discovered” the Snow Farm and nordic skiing right on their doorstep.
“We are very grateful to Otago Community Trust (OCT) and Central Lakes Trust for their support and enthusiasm for the Snow Farm. In 2019 the trusts supported the purchase of a new snow groomer to replace the ancient and barely functioning old groomer. The quality of the new snow grooming attracted the attention of everyone from locals to Olympic medallists who annually train and race at the Snow Farm (except in a C-19 year). Without the support of OCT, the Snow Farm would barely function with the always-broken old groomer. The new groomer has taken the Snow Farm “to a different place”.
This season, 2020, was a watershed, he said.
“In April we were not sure we would open with the looming lockdown. We may have had our best season ever; we were packed with local families, significantly during school holidays, and general manager Sam Lee and the local skeleton staff were bolstered by a strong crew of local volunteers.
“The “learn-to-ski” clinics, kids’ racing clinics, Biathlon (shooting and skiing) clinics, and ladies’ clinics were fully attended. In a “normal” season 30 per cent of the skiers, snowshoers, and Fun Zone users are from overseas. This year we had more total users but they were all Kiwis. It was, in retrospect, a fantastic season as Kiwis “discovered” the Snow Farm and the nordic skiing right on their doorstep.”