Mt Hutt announce new 8 seater chairlift, first in New Zealand

How the new chair will look.

Mt Hutt is getting a new chairlift and it’s New Zealand’s first eight seater.

The new Nor’west Express lift from Leitner Ropeways will replace the current Quad chair and will improve how guests access the mountain.

“The ride time of the Nor’west Express is only two minutes and it has capacity to carry up to 3,000 people an hour” says Mt Hutt manager, James McKenzie.

“The Quad currently takes at-least seven minutes to reach the top and can only move around 1,500 people an hour on a good day so we’re excited that our guests will be able to enjoy more time on the slopes with this new addition.

“This lift will follow the same path up the mountain as the Quad currently does so will provide the best access to our terrain parks. This means we expect to see less demand for our Summit Six chairlift and some of our upper mountain trails at peak times.”

The new chair will feature padded seats, foot-rest bars and a loading carpet with access gates. Each chair weighs nearly a tonne and is equipped with a chair swing dampener meaning the lift will be more stable and operate at higher speeds in windy conditions.

A cable de-icing and night-drive system coupled with fully automated in-terminal chair parking will drastically improve start-up times on icy mornings.

“It will be much more robust in variable weather allowing us to get up and running faster after new snow and to operate in stronger winds which in turn will reduce our closed days during the season and provide added value to our guests,” says McKenzie.

The ski area has seen sustained growth over the past five years and the investment is part of a long-term commitment to Mt Hutt and the ski industry.

“Our ongoing investments across our three ski areas are key to ensure we provide our guests with world-class experiences and the latest innovations in technology and safety” says NZ Ski CEO Paul Anderson.

Work is set to start on the new Nor’west Express lift at the end of October and continue through summer. Construction in time for the 2021 season is subject to regulatory approvals and COVID restrictions.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.