School skiing programmes at Queenstown’s Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are helping to get more local children and their families on the snow than ever before.
Local school kids at line-up for school skiing at Coronet Peak this week
This year nearly 1800 children from the wider region have participated in school skiing programmes across both mountains; nearly triple the participants from five years ago.
Ski area operator NZSki has been offering subsidised school skiing programmes to local schoolchildren for over 35 years. Many parents of school children went through the programme themselves when they were in school.
This year NZSki married those deals with sharp season pass prices to grow participation in skiing and snowboarding, introduce new people to snow sports and celebrate years of significant investments.
NZSki CEO Paul Anderson says the company is thrilled with the ongoing success of its schools programme.
“During the winter season, the local community is all about skiing and riding and we just love seeing so many kids up at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables having a great time. Our lower season pass pricing has also made it more affordable for the whole family to enjoy what’s become a way of life in the Wakatipu Basin.”
The mountains have hosted 257 school groups this season, with ski and snowboard instructors delivering 385 hours a week of world-class instruction, or around 2,500 hours a season.
NZSki General Manager Snowsports Toby Arnott has overseen the biggest-ever participation in school skiing this year. “It’s an incredible programme that we’re very proud of, and many youngsters who’ve started here have gone on to gain instructor qualifications through our Rookie programme or ski race on the world stage.”
A Queenstowner himself, Arnott went through the school ski programme before going on to compete in World Juniors and the World University Games ski racing programmes and build a career in the ski industry. Daughter Nova, a pupil at St Joseph’s Primary School, is waiting to follow in his footsteps.
St Joseph’s primary school board chair Gigi Hollyer is also a huge fan of the programme.
“I learned to ski through the programme when I was seven, and my parents couldn’t have afforded it otherwise,” she said.
“My father started skiing the following year and by the time I was ten I was awarded a scholarship so I could get into ski racing. I ended up becoming an instructor and used to teach school skiing.
“Now my daughter Caitlin who’s 11 and nine-year-old Anthony both love their lessons at The Remarkables with school skiing. I’ve been skiing with them as parent help and the amount they’ve picked up just from those lessons is pretty cool.
“The bang for your buck we get with their ski lessons in school is awesome.
“I’ve talked to so many parents this year who have been able to get back into skiing or are trying it for the first time because of the season pass prices this year, which is fantastic.
“NZSki’s made it affordable for locals to ski as a family.”
For information on passes, rentals and lessons, and to keep track of conditions, go towww.nzski.com