Join / Sign In
Join the snow squad! it’s free!

We know, another mailing list. But we really want you to have the best info available so you can have your best day/s on the snow ever! We promise to only send you things we think you’ll love, like:

  • Save your favourites

    Save your favourite resorts & webcams

  • Be in the know

    Tell us what you like - relevant emails only!

  • sync with mobile

    Download our app and sync your favourites

  • Deals & offers

    Working with our partners to make your winter a little bit sweeter

  • Forecast alerts

    Always know about the next powder day!

  • And - it’s free!
Join now
Sign up required*

Winter 2020, will it happen?
Covid-19 updates, ski areas plans, and the 2020 ski season opening dates

The obvious answer to the question is yes, winter will indeed happen in 2020! In fact we’ve already had the first snow at many areas around the country. Exciting!

Skiing 2020 in New Zealand? 

The real question obviously, is will we be going skiing and riding in New Zealand in 2020? I’m writing this on the day we’ve had only 8 confirmed Covid-19 cases, our lowest so far and they have been steadily declining, so I’m going to call it ... Skiing will be happening in 2020!     

There is a "but” however, and that’s because without question it will be different to our normal skiing experience, for a few reasons. In the next two to three months, almost certainly we’ll see our alert level drop to Level 2 at least, and maybe even Level 1, and if that’s the case we’re good to go.  Under Level 2 “Participating in sports and recreational activities is allowed, subject to conditions on gatherings”. Lifts present maybe the biggest challenge and it could mean limited loading, and different queuing arrangements. But, as we suggest later in this article, numbers may be down so maybe that impact will even out?   But it may mean that ski area cafes etc have to be closed. Instead you’ll possibly see ski areas with food trucks and pop up cafes, simply because physical distancing rules will still apply.  Like the image we've used of the Snowlicious Mobile Kitchen at Panorama in Canada (which wasn't because of Covid-19, it was just a cool idea!). 

The Government has published the Level 2 guidelines, how they apply to skiing has yet to be determined:

  • Businesses open, but physical distancing applies.
  • People advised to avoid non-essential travel.
  • Participating in sports and recreational activities is allowed, subject to conditions on gatherings.
  • Gatherings only allowed for up to 100 people, indoors, and up to 500 outdoors.
  • Physical distancing and infection prevention and control requirements must be met. 

If this is the case, we’d suggest the ski areas could potentially open at Level 2, especially if they get a dispensation for the 500 person limit. However it's the non-essential travel that could be more of a challenge. Within region may be OK such as Canterbury or Otago, but that hasn't been detailed at this point. 

If we see a drop to Level 1, no physical distancing is required so lifts etc should be all good and ski area cafes and services could probably open. But there’s another problem potentially, staffing. Think back to last season, did you hear many accents? Yes, right. Many internationals come here to work for our winter, and with our borders closed for the foreseeable future, that means staffing could be a challenge.  But then, there will be many Kiwis looking for roles, so this could balance out?

And talking of staff, pre-season, right about now, there’s tons of work usually happening at ski areas in preparation for opening. That’s not happening currently, so some ski areas are looking at limited openings, or in extreme cases not opening at all. Temple Basin for example, as smaller club field, has already announced they may not open in 2020. Craigieburn has also announced a limited opening, members/season pass holders only and limited to 100 people per day.  Even Mt Ruapehu has announced “we are currently working on whether it is possible to commit to the pre-winter costs of contracting labour and preparing the mountain.” And while that might all sound a bit dire, you can be sure that if the ski areas can open, they will. It’s just going to be a bit different and patience may be required.

But, we’re sure it will be worth it! And talking of waits … it’s quite possible some openings will be delayed, due to preparation, staffing, etc. In some cases, where let’s say several ski areas are owned by the same company, it’s feasible only one area will open thus saving costs and focusing their resources. Make sense. 

The upside (for snow lovers, but not so much the ski areas) is that it will be less busy at some resorts this season. As we all know, the New Zealand border is currently closed, and is likely to be so for many months, up to 12 some suggest. This means no Australian visitors, so if you ski Cardrona, Coronet Peak, or the Remarkables; you may well feel like it truly is “my mountain”.  We’ll temper that with the suggestion of an “open border” between Aussie and NZ, but who knows if that might happen in time for the snow season.

So yes! Let's plan on skiing in NZ this season! 

In summary then, we’ve got several smaller areas potentially not opening or restricting access, but that won’t affect too many people. You’re likely to see restricted facilities at some areas, maybe just the main lifts open, and it’s likely that services such as cafes could be limited, maybe to outdoor style food trucks (or repurposed snow cats!). For the most part, that probably won’t impact many of us either, and it will be an adventure!

The biggest impact however could be the lack of visitors, making it a unique season for you to get out there. Think less competition for car parks, more chance of fresh pow, and maybe the odd deal or two thrown out by the smaller ski areas to get you up there. We reckon then that 2020 has the potential to be one of the best seasons in recent memory. There will be no better place to sweep away memories of being locked down with your kids or bubble members. We also love the idea of a return to an old style “down to earth” ski experience.

And talking of deals, have you remembered that NZSki, the owners of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, and Mt Hutt have extended their early bird pricing until opening day. What an awesome initiative and once we've got the "good-to-go" message we reckon you should buy a pass and get out there! The Three Peaks Pass is $799, valid for all three areas, and the Mt Hutt only pass is great value at $379, available until the 2020 season starts.

2020 Ski Season & Opening Dates 

Finally then, here’s a few snippets from the ski areas themselves, as to what they think …

  • Mt Ruapehu: April 9 email and web update “If we do manage to open for winter 2020, our operations will be significantly different to what our guests have experienced in the past. This lockdown period puts us behind in our scheduled maintenance and, with the closure of borders and some of the skill sets we were going to engage from overseas, it is likely that not all facilities will be operational for winter 2020.”
  • Rainbow: April 7 update, “At Alert Level Two and One we would look to have a domestic only season and decide on the services we would offer closer to the time.”
  • Porters. No recent update, but currently working towards their traditional opening date which is Friday the 26th of June. Note they also have frozen their season pass price until opening day, $499.
  • Cheeseman. Planning to open July 4, assuming Level 1 or 2. Early snowfalls look good, check for the latest updates here
  • Mt Hutt. No recent update, but you can check here. Scheduled opening date Friday 5 June 2020
  • Mt Dobson, 16 April Facebook update “We here at team dobo are currently forging ahead, prepping for the 2020 season. In our eyes it will potentially be a season like no other we will ever experience again. That being said it is all going to look very different depending on what lockdown level we will be at. Hopefully level 1 or 2. We are at present working on safety systems for our staff and you, our customers. But we're sure by the time we are able to open you will all have down pat this social distancing that we are all living from day to day. So between ourselves, the staff and you our amazing diehard powderhounds, we've got this. It will look different but we can all make it work.” Planned opening 3 July 2020
  • Cardrona and Treble Cone: No recent update but Cardrona is scheduled to open on June 27 and Treble Cone on June 28. They have offered a "no questions refund guarantee", but clearly they are still gunning to open. Check for updates here.
  • Coronet Peak and the Remarkables. No recent update, but you can check here. Coronet Peak scheduled opening date Saturday 13 June 2020, The Remarkables scheduled opening date Saturday 6 June 2020

So we reckon, get the boards and planks out. This could be a season like no other!

Lastly, we know it's not NZ, but we’ve used an image of Panorama’s Snowlicious Mobile Kitchen, the first snowcat food truck in Canada, as a perfect example of what might need to happen here. We thank our Panorama friends for the image. BTW, it’s an awesome place to ski in Canada. Next year maybe? 

In the meantime ... be kind, stay at home, and wash your hands. Winter is coming and the wait will be worth it! And remember, it's our duty as winter enthusiasts to get out there and support these local businesses in time of need. OK, I’ll do it!