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Snowmaking helps Mt Hutt achieve record visitor numbers

Published by
Mountain Technology,

Mt Hutt in New Zealand has recorded its best visitor numbers since it opened in 1973 – an achievement that resort staff have partly attributed to the resort’s upgraded snowmaking system.

Remarkably the resort experienced its leanest snowfall in 20 years; James McKenzie, Mt Hutt Ski Area Manager, said: "The results are quite an achievement given the lack of natural snow this season. With just 170cm of snow falling from the time we opened through to closing weekend the 2018 winter season turned out to be the second leanest in 20 years, yet the numbers don’t reflect that. June visitation was up 60% and July to October numbers were up 30% - partly buoyed by great weekend weather."

McKenzie added: "Significant investment in snowmaking last summer was uncannily timely and amazingly effective. Following our pump station upgrade were able to double our output which meant all lifts were running from opening day to the end of the season for the first time ever."

This year Mt Hutt also reintroduced scenic rides on the Summit 6 chairlift, which were highly popular according to McKenzie: "Scenic rides on our Summit 6 chairlift went down a treat with both skiing and non-skiing guests alike. Literally anyone can now rock up to Hutt and have a go on the snow.

"To sum it all up we’ve had an absolutely stellar season. Yet, despite the increased business levels, the ski area never reached capacity. We’re a big mountain!"

The resort is aiming to build on this success with further investment in its snowmaking system along with the purchase of a new snow groomer equipped with Tier 5 engine technology and real-time snow-depth monitoring software.

McKenzie explained that environmental considerations influenced the choice of snow groomer: "Tier 5 engines have been developed in Europe to meet their more stringent emissions regulations and whilst there is a premium to include this in the spec, we see it as an important step towards reducing our impact on the unique alpine environment in which we operate."

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