New Zealand Ski Resorts to Face Heavy Losses Due to Lack of Snow in 'Warmest Winter' Yet

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By Reissa Su | August 7, 2014 9:54 AM EST

New Zealand's ski slopes are running out of snow three months into the winter season. Some popular ski resorts have not opened because of the lack of snow in what has been described as the warmest Southern Hemisphere winter since records began in 1909.

REUTERS/NASA
The lateral and terminal morains of two small receding glaciers flowing into Violingletscher (Violin Glacier) in East Greenland are seen during a NASA Operation IceBridge survey flight April 5, 2014.

According to reports, the Craigieburn Valley Ski Area is one of winter tourist spots that had not yet opened a single day since winter began. The lack of snow has caused others to fear that some ski resorts will remain closed throughout the season.

Nick Jaman, manager of the ski area, said the place has always opened before and this winter was the first time it closed for lack of snow in his 30 years of living in the area.

New Zealand ski operators are experiencing the effects of the warmest winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Although one "bad season" does not necessarily start a trend, the lack of snow happens at a time when NIWA scientists have found the country's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate because of climate change.

Reports said big ski areas in New Zealand were able to open because they invested in equipment which allows them to make their own snow. This helps New Zealand maintain its reputation as winter wonderland every winter and attract more than 60,000 skiers from Australia alone between June and August.

Queenstown's Coronet Peak has 200 snow guns operating night and day whenever it hits below freezing temperature. However, New Zealand still depends on ski areas with natural snow and many of them are preparing for negative profits for the year. The smaller ski areas rely on the income from tourism to stay open with volunteers as staff. These small operators do not have the funds to invest in equipment to make artificial snow.

Global warming has led to the "dramatic" loss of ice on New Zealand's Southern Alps. According to a new study, the mountain range has lost 34 per cent of its permanent ice and snow since 1977. Researchers from the University of Auckland and the University of Otago said the dramatic ice loss has accelerated in the last 15 years. 

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(Photo: REUTERS/NASA / )
The lateral and terminal morains of two small receding glaciers flowing into Violingletscher (Violin Glacier) in East Greenland are seen during a NASA Operation IceBridge survey flight April 5, 2014.
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