Sneak peak at The Remarkables new terrain

Base of the chairlift

The Remarkables ski field opens in four weeks and SnowsBest has the exclusive sneak peak of the new Curvey Basin chairlift.

It is big news when a new chairlift comes to play in Australasia, even more news when that chairlift creates new terrain and makes hard to get to areas more accessible. Enter the Curvey Basin chairlift at The Remarkables ski area near Queenstown.

NZSki are investing $45 million in upgrades to The Remarks and mountain manager, Ross Lawrence, took us up the mountain on the weekend (before today’s snow storm) to check out where the money is being spent.

Let’s cut to the chase and talk about the terrain first. The Curvey Basin starts where the old carpark used to be, below the old beginners section. It heads straight up for 1.2kilometres and is a good two hundred vertical metres above Alta lake.

What lake you may ask. Lake Alta is forty five metres deep and was previously only seen by those capable of hiking up Shadow Basin bowl and dropping down the Escalator, Elevator and Alta chutes.

With the new chairlift skiers and boarders will get a real feel of skiing high in the mountains with a Lake Alta view.  Advanced skiers and riders can traverse skiers left of the top of the chair out to the bowl above Alta and drop down or they can boot pack up to the Doolans ridge line and the Wye saddle above the chairlift.

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Looking down from half way up to the ridge line above Curvey Basin chairlift

Intermediate and beginner skiers can choose from a blue or green run, both thirty metres wide, to cruise on down the groomers from the new chairlift on all new created terrain. The old tube park has also gone so there’s more terrain, again.  Plus a lot of earth moving has been accomplished over the summer to make all of this possible and the result is a 1.6km top to bottom trail.

The beginner terrain below the current base lodge has also been expanded and will be separated from the chairlift for easier access for those wishing to catch the lift up.

There are two new carparks with pedestrian footpaths to the lifts. The scary hair pin bend that led into the old car park has now been cut away for a more fluid and cruisey approach and the first four kilometres of the access road have been tarred at every bend. With the road guards that had already been installed in recent years the road to The Remarkables drives a whole lot better (and safer).

Pipe from the lake to the pump house
Pipe from the lake to the pump house

The snow making pump house has been moved to just above Alta Chair and a pipe now leads from Alta Lake straight to the pump house which is capable of pumping 125 litres per second.

This is big news as in the past the lake was drained off to the natural stream and took two hours to get to the pump, now it takes ten minutes. With a fully automated snow making system with individual weather stations in the snow guns, this all makes fantastic sense.

The new pump house
The new pump house

The foundations for the new base lodge have also been set and will be designed by the same architect as Coronet Peak so expect lots of glass, a huge sun deck that will actually get a lot of sun and a vista that takes in the valley below and the mountain peaks above.

The overall feel from our visit is that skiers and boarders will get the true alpine potential that The Remarks has always had to offer. There is a great feeling of space when peering out from the ski patrol hut next to the new lift. Ski patrol can pretty much see the entire mountain barring Shadow Basin.

Looking down at the new runs
Looking down at the new runs

The long term plan is still to open up the back Doolans area but for now the emphasis remains on fun, family and friendly with something for all levels of skier and boarder. With NZ Ski’s new ‘live it, love it, share it’ staff credo under the guidance of new CEO Paul Anderson, who has already proven a hit with the staff since taking the helm, expect to see an invigorated love from on mountain service crew this winter.

The lift will be operational on June 5 for testing and The Remarkables season kicks off on June 21.

Three words? Bring it on.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of 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.


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