Thinking of working at a ski field this winter? Try working at a Chill field
Cover Photo: Boyd Grinstead, Nick Sutcliffe and Sam Grummit up on Hamilton Peak, between Broken River and Craigieburn, Picture by Richard Goldsbury.
With Covid still severely restricting the inflow of overseas visitors to New Zealand’s winter tourism destinations, NZ’s Ski fields are looking for more staff locally.
There are a number of larger operators (NZski, Cardrona, and so on); there are also a whole bunch of smaller, less conventional, fields that have something different to offer – both to their staff and to the skiers and snowboarders who are lucky enough to ski them.
If you’re looking at working on a hill this winter, here are a few reasons you should consider taking a position at one of the fields on the Chill pass
Mt Wall (Broken River Sidecountry). Skier Andrew Chin-Noble
Picture: Richard Goldsbury
“It is important to tell you this: If I had to stay in one area, in one mountain, in one place to snowboard for the rest of my life, it would be Temple Basin. It’s that good….Yes, you have to hike into the area, but it’s one of the most beautiful places to hike in the entire world…and yes, the place is not like a normal ski area – that is exactly the reason to go.”
- Brad Steward, Transworld Snowboarding, 1996
This is an older quote, but the terrain doesn’t change all that much in the Southern Alps, so it is still relevant, and still true. Yes it does require some walking to get to the best stuff, but when you get to it, it is world class.
Temple is a standout for me, partly because you look directly across at Mt Rolleston towards the west coast, and partly because the 100 foot + cliffs and other features that come from sitting on the main divide are incredibly impressive to ski around.
Tim Stevens at Craigieburn, Picture: Ollie Hunt
Similar things can be said for the terrain and views from the other fields. Craigieburn, Broken River, Fox Peak, and Mt Olympus are great examples too, and every field on the Chill pass has its own appeal.
Because the lifts have less capacity, there are less people accessing similar sized skiable areas - especially when the hiking terrain is included - and so untouched snow stays that way for longer.
Because none of the fields have 8-seater chairlifts designed to turn the slopes into a shopping mall concourse, there’s also a good chance you’ll be scoring fresh turns well into the afternoon.
It’s even better if you’re lucky enough to be on the snow safety team, because you’ll be getting the first tracks down the best terrain too. (see the bottom photo for evidence)
Broken River's famous Palmer Lodge deck
Picture: Richard Goldsbury.
The locals at a club field have usually built part of the field themselves, so not only are they happy to lend a hand, but they respect the work that goes on as a staff member at one of these fields.
For most fields, access is not gained by simply pulling into the top carpark and walking 50m to the express chair – like you can do at Mt Hutt if you are willing to leave Christchurch before 6am.
There is often some walking involved to get to the snow, and this means the skiers on the hill really want to be there – less stroppy children, for example. A blessing if you’re the ski instructor.
Instructor John Rudolph on his first kids ski lesson at Broken River
Picture: Richard Goldsbury.
With many of the fields on the chill pass having ski-in ski-out accommodation, you have the opportunity to meet spend more time with less people.
Rather than the short sharp interaction with thousands of skiers in chairlift lines you get at the bigger fields, there is a more relaxed atmosphere in the on mountain accommodation, bar, and even hot tubs – the only exception being during the occasional parties.
Picture: Sam Worsp, 2014 Broken River BBQ Competition
For the majority of roles at a big ski field, there is no accommodation provided on site, it is usually at a nearby village or town – like Methven, Wanaka, Queenstown, or Ohakune. This means as well as paying for a room, you have a reasonable commute to work each day – upwards of an hour in many cases.
Broken River Ski Patroller Mack Miller member scoring fresh tracks after completing snow safety - a perk of the job.
Picture: Richard Goldsbury.
At most Chill fields, you can wake up and be on your skis within 10 minutes, the only limitation being how fast you can get your gear out of the drying room and get into it.
There is less of a need to wake up at god knows what hour, and no need to sit on a bus or in a car for the daily commute, and then less hassle sorting your gear out at the end of the day.
While the appeal of the nightlife in the mountain towns can’t be denied, the convenience factor of having the nightlife come to you at the club fields can’t be ignored either.
As an added bonus, the drinks are cheaper, and the food is free (and pretty damn good too) – so why not?
Words: Ollie Hunt
Thanks to Richard Goldsbury and Sam Worsp for their Photos
Rainbow Ski Area
Shuttle Driver - Class 2 license required. P endorsement provided for the right applicant.
Starting the 5th of July. Full time. Accomodation available.
2 x Ski Instructors and 1 x Snowboard Instructor for Cheeseman.
Mountain Lodge - Chef
2 Ski Instructors
Hut Lodge - Bar person
Hut Lodge - Administrator
Hut Lodge - Chef
Emailstaff@mtolympus.co.nz if you or someone you know would like to apply!!
Lyndon Lodge - Chef
Snow Safety Officer
2 mid week ski instructors