Sustainable Slopes - Keep Winter Cool

The environmental charter for ski areas

Why is it important? | What We're Doing | Snow Guns and Snow Fencing | Energy Use | How you can help | Nine simple ways to keep winter cool

Why it's important - our winter wonderland is warming

The snow is an integral part of our lives, and we want to keep it that way for future generations.

The trouble is, things are heating up out there. Scientific predictions are that global warming will bring less snowfall, and shorter ski and snowboard seasons - and that would put a serious dent in our winter adventures!

Most scientists agree the reason is carbon dioxide discharge, primarily from fossil fuel consumption, which ultimately creates a layer of pollution that prevents heat from escaping from our planet. By now most skiers and riders know (unlike George Bush’s scientists!) that climate change is happening right now and doesn’t just mean bad snow by 2050 and none by 2100. It will mean changes in every aspect of our daily lives. If we don’t take radical action now to reduce global warming and pollution in the next decade, we will soon be living in a planet completely unrecognizable to us. If carbon dioxide emissions aren’t cut soon, we can expect major downstream headaches.

Solving and slowing global warming is probably humanities greatest ever challenge, with the payoff a stable and safe sustainable world. We can fix the problem, as long as we start now. That’s why NZSki Ltd has teamed up with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Ski Areas Association to Keep Winter Cool.

Caring for our planet and ensuring snow for future generations are responsibilities we all share. The good news is that by using new, less-polluting technologies and conserving energy -- as many ski areas are doing -- we can keep winter cool. But urgent action is required: it will take a concerted effort from all of those with a stake in winter to turn things around.

If not us, then who?

What We're Doing

NZSki Ltd. is committed to modeling our behaviour on the principles of sustainable development. Climate change is a widely accepted phenomena and the ski industry is perceived as one of the most threatened. By adjusting business practice to try and make a difference, we hope to lead the way in sound responsible environmental business practice.

Our sustainability vision:

To provide exceptional recreational opportunities for guests and employees taking the utmost care and commitment to environmental protection and stewardship. To work in conjunction with our suppliers and local government officials to conserve, recycle, reuse and utilize renewable resources in our daily operations. To plan responsible future growth within our community to guarantee protection of our natural resources for future generations.

  • We will lead ski area environmental management and business sustainability and be an advocate for 'green' business practice.
  • To listen and respond to customer demands particularly related to sustainable business practice.
  • Involve the local community in our environmental programmes and make them personally rewarding.
  • To listen to all staff about how we could do things better.
  • To create initiatives and opportunities for sustainable business through inspired leadership.

Snow Guns and Snow Fencing

NZSki undertakes a variety of practices to ensure the sustainability of the ski field for the whole of winter, employing best practice snow making, snow grooming and snow farming techniques prior to and throughout the season.

Tower mounted snow guns, increase productivity by 35% using the same volume of water as any other gun type.

Snow grooming is done in an environmentally sensitive way, including the use of winch cats where possible. Snow farming is also used to capture the maximum amount of snow during storms (eg. on the Summit) where it can then be re-distributed to high-traffic areas (eg. sun facing runs).

Energy Use

The NZSki Resort Management and Board has a mandate that dictates all new developments within the resort must adhere to at least a five star energy rating or it will not be approved. This will ensure the long-term success of our 3 premier resorts as an energy-efficient tourist destination.

Patrons are also encouraged to use less energy when visiting the resort, with a list of energy-saving tips at each property. Developing stronger consumer awareness of energy use is one of the principles of the Keep Winter Cool initiative.

Green choices are smarter choices.

At Coronet Peak

The key focus areas for Coronet Peak is sustainable land use (reservoirs, native vegetation), construction that is sympathetic to the natural landform, energy use and by association, carbon emissions. We acknowledge there is a long way to go as we progress towards sustainable business but here are a few things we've achieved so far:

  • We divert over 50% of our solid waste from landfill.
  • We make use of the recycling facilities that are now available in Queenstown, and donate our coffee grounds to the Queenstown Harvest Community Gardens to be recycled into fertilizer/compost.
  • We repurpose old materials to create park features and storage solutions.
  • Coronet Peak makes snow from 95% recycled water. The recent project has seen the construction of high-altitude water storage reservoirs which, at 1200m above sea level, keeps the water at about 0C, making it 20% more efficient for snowmaking than if it were to be taken elsewhere.
  • Our snowmakers manage a fully-automated snowmaking system which enables us to reduce energy and water wastage.  They also catch any snow melt through the season and reuse it for snowmaking.
  • We saved approximately 10% of our building's electricity usage over the 2013 season with our departments practicing a 'switch it off' campaign.
  • Since 2011, we have reduced our fuel consumption by over 60,000 litres by focusing on efficient operation of our boilers and groomer fleet.
  • We minimise our carbon emissions by back loading all garbage on our freight truck's ensuring that no load is wasted.
  • We provide a state of the art public transport service for both guests and crew and promote ride-sharing to and from the mountain, and we closely manage our fleet of vehicles to ensure fuel efficiency.
  • We continue to preserve our environment by planting native New Zealand Tussock and removing noxious weeds and pests from our Recreation Reserve each summer.
  • We manage our waste water treatment plant carefully to reduce the levels of Nitrogen and BOD in the treated effluent.
  • We purchase biode