Work begins on Snow Farm base build

by Kim Bowden - Feb 26, 2024

Construction is underway high above the Cardrona Valley at the Snow Farm cross country skiing park to build a new base building in time for winter.

The ski field spent last season operating out of a collection of containers and portable cabins and toilets, after its lease on an existing building was terminated in late 2022.

Now, building company Breen Construction is onsite and on track to have stage one of a much larger base build project ready for skiers by June.

Earthworks at the edge of Mary's trail prepare for the build of stage one of the Snow Farm's new base building (Image: Supplied).

John Burridge, of the Pisa Alpine Charitable Trust, created in 2009 to secure the future of the Snow Farm, says consenting for stage one went smoothly, construction started on time, and now "it is absolutely vital" work is complete before winter arrives. 

A new building will house visitor services, including ticketing and gear hire, and a staffroom.

Mr Burridge says it will be "a big advance on the difficult situation" Snow Farm manager Sam Lee, his team, and Snow Farm customers had to "endure" last year.

Although, he acknowledges it wasn't all terrible, and people rallied to make the best of a bad situation.

"Oddly it brought a warmth and ambience that was reminiscent of the early days of the Snow Farm".

There are also plans to have some sort of mobile food outlet onsite this winter, that will sell simple food and drinks, including hot drinks, with the potential for a cafeteria to be added in later development stages.

However, visitors will need to make do with portable toilets for another season at least.

Mr Burridge says while a toilet block with underground sewage storage is in the overall plans, their budget does not stretch for them yet.

"We're hoping the funding for that will come from the QLDC because it is their recreation reserve and they have talked to us about it, but they are struggling of course with budget money."

The Snow Farm sits on the council-owned Waiorau recreation reserve, which the Pisa Alpine Charitable Trust has an exclusive 99-year lease over.

Two years ago the trust opened the 36-bed Musterers' Hut, set up to host larger groups, including visiting schools, after a $750,000 fundraising drive.

The loss of the existing base building was unexpected, and it is a big ask for the trust to be seeking funding again so shortly after a huge project.

But trust members remain committed to investing in the facility.

"We think the Snow Farm is Central Otago's secret gem and there are no car park problems, roading queues or lift queues and all of us stop and chat on the trails or to listen to the babbling of the Meg river as we swish our skis or stamp our snowshoes alongside it," Mr Burridge says.

"My blood pressure drops before I can even get my skis on once I am there."

He says the ski area also plays an important part in growing snow sports stars of the future.

"The quality of the Snow Farm as a base and springboard is currently on display at the IBU (International Biathlon Union) World Championships in Czech Republic with Campbell Wright competing at the top end of the field.

"It's (biathlon's) something that fits the New Zealand psyche, I think, because lots of kids around the country do go shooting, it's something they're good at, and they get plenty of practice, and then to combine that with skiing, which is readily available here."

Main image (Supplied): The foundations begin on the Snow Farm's new base building, which will house ticketing, gear hire and a staffroom.



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