Winter has rolled into its third month in New Zealand, and Nick Jarman says he’s going stir crazy as he stares out at the rain on the ski area he manages in the Southern Alps.
The Craigieburn Valley Ski Area is one of several that haven’t opened for a single day this season, and some fear there may not be enough snow to open at all this year – something Jarman says has never happened during his 30 years there.
Ski operators throughout New Zealand are feeling the effects of the country’s warmest start to the Southern Hemisphere winter since record-keeping began in 1909. And while one bad season doesn’t prove a trend, it comes at a time when scientists say the country’s snow pack and glaciers are melting at an alarming rate because of climate change.
The country’s largest ski areas have managed to open only because they’ve invested in equipment to make their own snow, which they’ve been doing this year in unprecedented quantities.
For now, at least, that’s helped protect the nation’s reputation as a winter play land, one that each year attracts more than 60,000 skiers and snowboarders from Australia alone from June to August when it is winter south of the equator.