13 OCTOBER, 2016
We have just had two lots of international publicity that are both very cool and both to do with winter. Ed Leigh who is the Ski Sunday presenter for the BBC has written an article on Ohau that has just appeared as a full page spread in The Guardian newspaper in the UK. He and his Kiwi wife Sian along with kids Suki and Oscar have stayed with us a few times and we are stoked to have had this publicity.
Bring out the Brits!~
I’ve also just had a youtube video link sent to me from the New Zealand Burton rep Jay Smith and it features quite a bit of Ohau and this has been sent to all their retailers globally. Check this out too https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kme0Z5ZFXcc&feature=youtu.be
Bring out the rest of the world!~
3 AUGUST, 2016
After what was a very challenging start to winter, right now outside my window it is dumping and we are expecting a significant fall.
For the July school holidays, global warming was definitely showing us what an impact it can have and for that the first week Craig and the team pulled out all stops to get open. Snowmaking was difficult with waves of warm and then cold temperatures. There were some huge hours put in and although it was a trail only for a few weeks, the top of the mountain had more and all our skiers and snowboarders
In June we were at an opening of an art exhibition by Margaret Lawlor-Bartlett called “What shall we leave them” all about global warming and we purchased one of her paintings which is now in pride of place in the restaurant. It is called Hurry Dear Hurry and refers to rising sea levels and depicts her favourite ruru as the Kaitiaki, the guardian of the environment. She is one of the few activist artists in New Zealand and we met her when she stayed here a few years ago with her husband Peter. I recommend that you check out her work.
It’s a different picture here now. The mountain should be epic after this fall but that seems to be the nature of global warming, nothing predictable other than warmer temperatures generally and erratic weather.
We have a totally new team in the Lodge this year apart from Tom our Head Chef and part timer Emma but everyone has gelled, is happy and doing a great job. It is one of the lovely things about being here and that is working around young people all the time. The mountain is cranking with key team leaders returning and supporting the new people. We liken this place to being on a ship, once you are on you are on and everyone has to pull together and all of the crew are doing a great job keeping the Ohau ship on course this winter. Get on board!
6 APRIL, 2016
For the record, this may be an annual or maybe twice annual newsletter!
We’ve had our busiest February and March ever, all down to the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail and this is bound to be keep steadily growing as everyone loves it. The cyclists have been mostly north islanders but we are starting to see groups of Australians now coming over to do the ride. In the Frommers website the A2O cycle trail was noted as one of their Top 15 things to do in the world in 2016. Woohoo!
Mike has been made the Chairman of the Mackenzie Country Trust. The Trust Deed was signed and the Trust established by the Associate Minister of Conservation Hon. Nicky Wagner. This is a project that is very dear to Mike’s heart, working together and in collaboration with the local farming community to protect the outstanding Mackenzie landscapes.
This summer our nephew, Head Chef Tom married Rachel our receptionist. OMG, such a fabulous wedding down on the lake shore, great weather, all the family, a 3 day party, so much fun. Kailash our grandson was here (with his parents), so that was more fun, playing grandparents – almost enough to make me want to give up work!!
We are starting the process of finding another fabulous team of people to complete our winter staff so looking forward to that all coming together and working alongside them all. Till then we’ve got quite a few weddings taking us through and they are always lovely.
Best wishes to all our lovely guests.
5 FEBRUARY, 2015
As you will see, I’m not getting to write these very often but heck I don’t want to bore you all – just a little story now and again.
What a stunning stretch of amazing weather we have had since Christmas. Daily temperatures around 30 degrees and guess what – now we have snow on the tops – that’s New Zealand weather for you!!
In November, Jock helped out in the Lodge which enabled me to go on a sapphire buying mission with Willie to Sri Lanka which was incredibly special for me. To travel with my grown up son was an absolute treat and then over the Christmas break we have had all the family here. Willie, his wife Cameron and our first grandson Kailash visiting from California, Jock who now lives in Wellington stayed on and Eily came home with her boyfriend Patch so it was fabulous.
Now life has returned to “normal” and we’re really enjoying the Alps 2 Ocean cyclists that are coming to stay. It’s been a total boost to our summer business which has been for the past 23 years based around bus tours, weddings and birthday parties. Of course, this was the original intention of John Key’s initiative - to bring business to those areas in New Zealand that could do with a leg up and it is already having a huge impact on the economy of the Mackenzie and Waitaki regions.
Tourism NZ have just put together this clip which is worth checking out!
Our cycling guests seem to be mostly North Islanders and totally loving their experience of exploring this part of the country and we hear many comments that this is the best stretch -between Aoraki Mt Cook and Omarama. It also seems to be becoming one of the most popular cycle trails in New Zealand because it passes through such a variety of terrain – alps to ocean!!
I’ve just got to get Mike out there now! He is threatening to do it with some friends later on this summer so I’m sure they’ll hold him to it but life here is always busy for him.
For you though that are reading this, what could be better than getting out there on your bike, being in amazing countryside, a comfortable bed in a different and interesting location each night, delicious food, good coffee, great local wines – check out the Waitaki Valley Ostler Vineyard’s Caroline’s Pinot Noir – OMG! - all you have to do is organize your companions – you don’t have to be a biking nut - and how could you not have a good time! DO IT!!!
22 JULY 2014
The school holidays are now behind us and we have been cranking!! The snow making has really proven itself so far this season. The top of the mountain has had good cover but the lower half has really only been kept going by consistent cold temperatures and our guns pumping out the good stuff. Craig is at the moment grooming the “whales” of man made for the new course “Towers” on the lookers right and so Mike and I are planning a few runs tomorrow to test it out.
What an awesome team we have this season. Everyone is pulling together so well and we’re all having fun. The chefs are surpassing themselves and serving up stunning meals, the wait staff are a tight well oiled unit, the bar staff staunching through the hours and looking after us all, the housekeeping team exhausted and on the mountain the team are getting fabulous comments about their service and friendliness.
The opening day with the Irish night in the bar was huge and now we are looking to the next party which is Scottish night. The tartan is being gathered up and the costumes coming together. Och aye the noo!!!!
Our weekends are pretty full up but we do have Saturday the 2nd with plenty of rooms still and the weekend of 29th & 30th August there is still some availability.
Everyone is telling us that we have some of the best conditions so we’d love you to come and try them out.
See you on the ridge!
9 MAY, 2014
I’m sneaking this under the radar with a newsletter update to advise that Jock has left us for a while. He needs a break and we are completely fine – sob – with him going! He’s headed to Melbourne to catch up with friends and then off to the States to see his older brother and a new baby, soon to be born and then perhaps to Wellington (watch out you Wellingtonians) for a while.
Missing him already!
On the mountain there is heaps going on! We’ve got contractors digging trenches for new snowmaking and they have already smoothed a new trail from the skiers left off the chair lift to join up with the Shirt Front. Bags me first to try it out! Another awesome transformation of our rocky terrain up there.
We’ve had some ridiculous cold and snow already which has challenged the workers on the mountain but they are stoically working away = good indications for winter.
Within the Lodge we have a new team building for the upcoming winter and I am sure, even without Jock, that you will be hosted fabulously and hopefully still with some entertainment value!
See you soon
2 MARCH, 2014
We have been busy!! Since Christmas it seems that all we do is work and sleep but it has been great. The Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail has really caught the attention of cyclists and they are such lovely guests. This is certainly a relief after a couple of difficult years and vindication of all those hours that Mike has put into doing his bit to help make it a good operation. Everyone is loving the two sections – Twizel to here and then from here to Omarama and I have really taken on board an article that I read that it is not a race and that you should stop to swim in the lake or take time out to eat your lunch at the top of the hill and just enjoy the spectacular vistas.
As well as our tour business, we have also hosted some beautiful weddings over the last year and it is worth checking out Jim Pollard’s website to see the stunning shots he has taken. www.jimpollardgoesclick.com
Our chefs have been cooking outrageously good food. Tom and Terry came to us having worked at The Modern Pantry in London which on the Time Out website is noted as one of the top 4 most booked restaurants in London. I see that Anna Hansen the NZ owner has just been out and cooking a series of degustation dinners at Michael Seresin’s Waterfall Bay which would have been a treat for anyone that could have made that. We also have Tracy our Pastry Chef to compliment the team and she comes from Twizel and is a Masterchef finalist in the first series so we are seriously well covered in the food department.
Tom is our nephew and as well as him and son Jock who has been working here for a few years now, we’ve also had our daughter Eily who has just finished her degree and niece Ruth working here so that has been a delight having so much family home. All the staff have been getting into some jet boating and cycling the trail and before winter I’m hoping that we will all get up the valley and stay up there for a night as that is such a special place.
We’ve had a couple of cold snaps with snow on the tops lately and so that certainly helps to turn our thoughts to winter even though it is 4 months away. We are starting preparations for some more snow making and slope grooming before the season starts but unfortunately we cannot afford to put in the chairlift for 2014 but hopefully if the business continues to trend upwards we can put it in for 2015!
We look forward to seeing you – perhaps biking as now it is coming into the best time of the year for that or this winter.
19 MAY, 2013
I had always contemplated what it might mean to me to lose my dog but Max our 11 year old big chocolate Labrador was put to sleep a couple of days ago. He has been a part of the Lodge for such a long time that it is going to be a bit lonely in our house for a while.
In the early days he used to regularly greet the buses with me then jump on and walk up the middle aisle for people to pat him but really just searching out any food. He also used to take guests for walks – it wasn’t the other way around. He would lead the way then look back to see they were following him. He also used to regularly go down to the Ohau village 5kms away to visit his girlfriend. I would then get the call from the girl’s owners to say that “brown dog” was there and the taxi service would duly go down to bring him home after he’d had a bit of a play. Once though he went down at 1am and so ended up having a sleep over. I had to go down with a bottle of whisky that Christmas!
Lately he has been very arthriticy, totally deaf and possibly a bit senile but he would still get a bit of a young puppy jump on once in a while which was really funny.
He was a very handsome and gentle animal and we will really miss him here.
Max and his girl
Maximus in his prime!
19 MARCH, 2013
On the 16th February, we had the most awesome Gala Dinner to celebrate the opening of the Aoraki Mt Cook to Omarama section of the Alps2Ocean cycle trail. Everyone who is riding it is saying that the ride around the bottom of Ohau is seriously fantastic. One guy came up to me after riding it on opening day and said that he had ridden many tracks around NZ and the world and this was up there as one of the best. Pretty good to hear!
On the Sunday I had a last minute epiphany and decided to ride with everyone from the Lodge to Omarama – I had to get my certificate!!!! It wasn’t till I had chucked on my new cycling pants and gloves and standing at the start that I heard it was 42kms!~! This was the 2nd time I had been on a bike in the last 10 years! Oh my god!! Still I had very good cycling company in Cindy Douglas from Dome Hills and Jim and Annie Jerram from Ostler wines. We just took our time and paced ourselves and it was a perfect day. There was some heat in the sun and the views were stunning. So many different vistas. The climb up to the top was not too hard but then the track going down to Quailburn was gorgeous! Finally got to Omarama 4 1/2hrs later. I think the fast ones do it in about 1 3/4hrs! Really glad I did it though and I can’t wait to do the bit from Twizel to the Lodge. Too much work to do at the moment but really looking forward to it.
Take a look at the website www.alps2ocean.com
We are now open for lunch at 12.30 and the Chefs have come up with this delicious Cyclists Platter. Everything is made a the Lodge other than the cheese and consists of home made bread and lavosh, tequila and mint cured gravlax, smoked beef carpaccio, pistachio and ham hock terrine, broad bean hummus, ploughmans relish, some Evansdale blue and farmhouse cheese and some fresh fruit. We are also offering espresso coffee and cake to those who just want a quick something.
Everyone is loving it so come and try it out.
Look forward to seeing you soon!
14 MARCH, 2012
Following on from a “one out of the box” wonderful summer during the school holidays this year, we are now into a sublime Autumn with long, still, warm days and cool nights.
My sister and I climbed Ben Ohau the other day. It’s one of those things that has been on my list to do and although it was a bit tedious, I’m very glad to have done it and the views are so wide and huge, you need all that time to take them in.
We’ve just had a group of 8 cyclists stay who are on the inaugural Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail. They are doing the whole trip from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru. They took the helicopter across from The Hermitage, biked down the north side of Lake Pukaki and wondered at the sound of “no human presence”. It’s going to be a fabulous trail as it develops. There is still a lot of work to do and the trail around the bottom of Lake Ohau has not yet started but we think that will be one of the highlights.
Other highlights this year have been the number of weddings we have been privileged to be a part of. They bring guests to Lake Ohau who do not know about us and it is lovely to hear their positive comment.
The best bit of news though is the new chairlift! Just purchased and the plan is to put it in over next summer. What a difference that is going to make to the mountain. It will go up to the ridge and take out so much of the hike to Hemis.
Roll on winter!! It’s going to be a goodie!
4 JULY, 2011
We are expecting snow tonight but up till now the snowmaking has been amazing. We have a 2.2km trail from the top of the mountain to the bottom, mostly 4-5 groomer widths across and all lifts operating. We are one of the few mountains that has managed to get open and all due to the system that we have in place and the good snowmaking conditions.
At Ohau we knew that we had good snowmaking conditions due to our relative dry humidity and altitude but people in the industry are apparently surprised that we have been able to make snow for over 200 hours already and those that have been up to check it out have been very impressed with the result.
It has been the perfect test. With good snowmaking conditions and little natural snow so far this winter the Techno Alpin system, installed for exactly this purpose, has exactly delivered.
23 JUNE 2011
HI TO ALL THOSE AMPING TO GET UP THE MOUNTAIN
I’ve just looked on the webcam and the snowmaking is absolutely deluging. We’ve finally got really good temperatures and some good forecasted temperatures over the next week so very hopeful of opening on the 1st July.
PIRATES & BURTON SNOWBOARDS
This weekend we’ve decided to go ahead with the Pirate party and the Scurvy Dogs playing from Dunedin. Burton Snowboards have again been generous when the snow gods are required to do what they do best and the first naked snow dancer and the best dressed pirate will be awarded with an awesome prize.
The Scurvy Dogs will be calling the time and so ………….. come on you flubbery land lubbers! Get ye on board the good ship Ohau for there’s bound to be a rum old time and some fine jolly rogers flaunting themselves this weekend!!
5 APRIL 2011
HEY ALL YOU NEWSLETTER READERS!!!
EASTER IN THE MACKENZIE is the most stunning and my favourite time of the year. The colours are gorgeous, the weather is still, the mornings crisp and the days warm. We were all out taking pbotos last night as the setting sun sent these shafts of light over the dark hills and there was a dusting of snow on the tops. Gobsmacking!!
We’ve still got AVAILABILTY over the Easter break if you are thinking of getting away and there is NO SURCHARGE for the public holiday
The valley is so beautiful for walking, mountain biking or taking a 4WD trip and we can pack you a lunch so that you can find a lovely spot for a picnic. You can also take a drive up the ski field road and walk on the mountain where the views are splendiferous. OR if you prefer to stay around the Lodge there is tree golf or just take a short walk along the lake shore. The mushrooms are starting to appear if you are into foraging, buttercups are blooming, the rose hips are abundant and the bell birds are making their beautiful sound.
It’s all good for the soul so come and spend Easter with us.
11 AUGUST, 2010
The “Hau” has been a very peaceful place this season - so far. We’ve had little wind and with no noise from those generators there has really been a different feel on the mountain.
The July school holidays were very lively. We absolutely LOVED all the families that came and stayed and already they are booking again. Some because they loved it so much in July are coming back for the September holidays and some for next season. The Mountain Goats programme is a big success with children who, gaining confidence and ability receive a certificate noting their improved level achievement. Initially this was a holiday programme only but now it runs all season so once you are enrolled, you get all lessons for ½ price. Again this season the Snow School is a standout department on the mountain.
As far as instruction goes we have:
Ladies Day happening for the next 3 Thursdays (19th, 26th & 2 September) on the mountain. Jemma our local instructor is your personal trainer for the day and there are options whether you are experienced or on the improve. She also initiated the Station vs Station race a couple of years ago and it was great to have a few farms from Wanaka represented this year. It would be great if this carried through to next year.
Team Ohau, the local race team of kids mainly from Twizel but some Omarama children are training hard. They started off with a week long training session in the holidays and now either race train every Sunday or they are away attending a race meeting. They also come up with their schools and have an extended session. Best placing so far is MacKenzie Frost who came 5th in her class at Remarkables and Treble Cone.
High Country Schools Race Day is 16th September. We typically host 100 children from Omarama, Twizel and Waitaki Valley and it is a very happy event.
Also in rentals this year we have a heap of new rental gear consisting of new skis, boots, poles and clothing which has been very well received by all who have used it.
At reception the other day I heard an excited bottom lift operator exclaim over the radio that he had just had sun reach him for the first time this season. The conditions at night are still often cold enough though to make snow so the Techno Alpin system is still coming into play ensuring good snow on piste to last right through till the end of the season.
Two weeks ago we had a full house to enjoy our Irish night and everyone remarked what a great vibe there was around the place. This of course goes hand in hand with Irish anything I think. There were quite a few Irish people to add extra flavour along with the Guiness to the night but the Black Velvet Band as always get everyone up dancing and it was loads of fun.
This weekend is Scottish night and the Mac Black Velvet band will be playing. I hope they do as good a job as the Black Velvet Band! The Lodge will be awash with tartan, Scottish accents and bagpipes – Och aye!
Finally we have the Snow Ball on 11 September which is already fully booked and we Taos will be playing. Taos have played here once before and were really popular. They are lovely guys so looking forward to seeing them here and having them play.
We are having great reports about the snow cover on the mountain. I hiked Hemis twice in one day – unheard of!! It was great! Knackered for 2 days afterwards though!
3 JUNE, 2010
AHOY YOU “HAU” LUBBERS!!
Ohau Snow Fields (the "HAU") will be opening for the 2010 season on 26th June with great snow cover. With some early snowfalls in May and regular snow made by the high tech “Armani” of Italian snowmaking systems the field will be off to another fine start.
The mighty “Hau” is coming of age. Mains power has now been connected to the field. For the punter it means that you can check the current conditions on their website any time on the webcam. It takes a picture every 10 minutes from the top of the chair over the field to the lake below. The Ohau crew are claiming it rightly as the most picturesque view from any webcam in New Zealand.
Power also restores peace to the mountain. No more noisy generator driving the chair lift and no more diesel needed except for the groomers. This is all part of the plan in reducing the Snow Field’s carbon footprint.
“ Ohau” meaning place of wind should provide full sails for the start of the season Pirate Party on Saturday night 26th June. It’s going to be a rum old time with the Scurvy Dogs from Dunedin belting out many a sea shanty. Cap’n Mike will be takin’ 10 pieces of gold for your entry (to House Guests only) and there’ll be buxom wenches and parrots in abundance to be sure. Any mangy land lubbers not appropriately attired will be forced to walk the plank and could end up in Davy Jones Locker if they’re not careful.
The Lodge hosts 3 other event nights over the winter season and they always bring out the best in crazy costumes. There’s plenty of good craic on Irish night, 31st July with the Black Velvet Band playing. Scottish night and the Mac Black Velvet Band on 14th August is already fully booked and finally the fancy dress Snowball on 11th September with Taos confirmed as the draw card act will be a highlight. Check out the website and get in early to book a room.
Lake Ohau Lodge has always had a great reputation with families. Kids love eating together early on the big tables and then either playing ping pong, watching a DVD or having fun in the spa while their parents have dinner. And it’s not only the kids who are well looked after. Lamb shanks, roast pork belly, just what you want after a day up on the mountain. The Lodge’s high country food has been recognized in awards from two of their tours over the past summer.
The "Nicest Guys" on Snow
Ohau Snowfields has for the 3rd time been voted the Supreme Award winner for best service of any field in New Zealand, taking the Snowco prize for 2004, 2008 & 2009. It may be New Zealand’s smallest commercial field but the friendly atmosphere is always BIG!
For more information on the bands check this out:
For more information please contact:
Ph: (03) 4389 885
5 MAY, 2010
Well apparently there are people out there who read this!! So I am very pleased to be able to provide you with another installment of Louise’s rambles on what is happening and what has been happening at Ohau since my last newsletter at the end of last season.
The summer has been smooth and mostly uneventful…… other than a few staff members getting stuck up the valley in either jet boats or 4WDs and needing rescuing….. they know who they are!!
It has put the pressure on meals being on time for guests and in one case – who was there to serve it, but in every situation it has come together and all has been just fine with a little stress and anxiety thrown in for good measure.
We’ve been the host to many fabulous weddings and birthday parties as well as our regular business of groups of travelers on buses who stay for one night on their adventures around New Zealand. The feedback has been tremendous and the compliments about the food and the staff have been the common thread with everyone who has stayed.
At present we have up to 10 contractors staying. These men are involved in the installation of power up to the ski field in time for the winter, the replacement of the groomer shed and the platter. We are moving the groomer shed to a new site, somewhere where it isn’t in everyone’s view of the lake! We’ve had a bit of a hitch with huge rainfall over the last week but everything has really been very smooth and these guys are without peer. They are extremely skilled in what they do.
In the Lodge we still hope to complete the refurbishment of the remaining Temple wing bathrooms. Last year at this time we completed 11 and we have another 11 to do. That will leave us with the bedrooms to attack the next time we have a gap in the traffic.
Staffing for the winter is coming together very nicely. If you were here last winter you will recognize a lot of familiar faces and that helps tremendously with getting those who haven’t worked here before up to speed.
Bookings for the winter are looking great. We’re starting off with a pirate party this season on 26 June which is going to be bigger than Ben Hur. I have to say that I have a penchant for pirates and Mike loves pirate music – check out the Rogues Gallery CD. We have the Scurvy Dogs coming to play from Dunedin and it will be loads of fun Aaarrrrgh. Check out our Event Calendar for other silly parties. The Scottish one is already full but for Irish night and the Snow Ball we are about ½ full already so get your booking in and plan your dress up.
At the moment though it is a beautiful Autumnal day. The leaves on the poplars are at their most gorgeous as is the light on the hills in the evening.
We’re gearing up for winter. Looking forward to seeing you all.
15 SEPTEMBER 2009
This Newsletter will probably be my last one for the winter season but ALL IS NOT OVER YET! It has been a stunning snow year with up to 3 metres at the top and nearly 2 at the bottom so PLENTY OF SNOW STILL LEFT for some of the BEST SPRING CONDITIONS EVER. We are closing on the 4th October, taking in the first week of SCHOOL HOLIDAYS and it is the best time to get your little ones out on the snow. I don’t think you can beat us as a place for a TRULY RELAXING KIWI HOLIDAY. Mums don’t have to cook, we feed the kids early, no city style diversions, a place where you can enjoy being together and good memories that you and your children will carry with you for ever.
One of the standout memories of this season is going to be the 40th birthday parties. All those hunky young guys from our early days here at Ohau are now married, with children and turning 40! They are all a bit out there, fully charged and determined as you would, to make the most of the night. These things really ram home the passing of time but it is so nice to be part of all these people’s lives, their youth, their weddings, their birthdays and their children – the pleasure of being in this business for almost 20 years.
Just as an aside, the staff parties are worth mentioning. That whole thing of being away from a population base and having to make your own fun is very much the essence of a winter here, whether as a guest or working at Ohau. There are a few traditions, one being the ski field staff hosting the now annual mid winter Christmas party. A new one this season that I’m sure will become an annual event was the very entertaining Chunk a Trunk rail slide outside the Lodge staff accommodation. Before the season started there were some big logs cut in half, faced down the slope and propped up at one end so you had to drop off and placed ready for the snow when it fell around the lodge. That never happened, so a week ago, 9 trailer loads of snow were brought down from the ski field and shovelled into a trail, starting at the top of the hill, over the trunks and ending up at a picnic table tipped on it’s side. Floodlights were kindly donated, a big fire roared and pumping music made for a fun night. One of our waitresses was apparently still up at 3am snowboarding in the moonlight on her own!!? The full moon was stunning that night especially when combined with a reflection on a glassy lake BUT was she at work the next morning! The parties can be the pit falls but good training for still getting up in the morning.
Which brings me on to not being able to help but mention our outstanding staff once again. Compliments have abounded about how friendly they are up AND down the mountain. They are a joy! The highest praise has been about the food in the Lodge this season. I had one of our guests email me to say that they had got back from their holiday and a couple of weeks later her friend who had been on holiday with her emailed to say “I wonder what the Lodge are having for dinner tonight!” That made me laugh but even the staff get fed amazingly. We are hoping to build a house here this summer and I might have to start cooking! Oh my god! At least I’ll know where to go for cooking lessons!
Have a great summer everyone. Thanks for being a part of our 2009 Ohau winter memories.
15th JULY, 2009
We are almost through the school holidays and haven’t been this busy since the good old days when they were in August which is just fantastic and what we hoped would happen with snowmaking!
The weather has been fabulous and our snow cover is amazing so the season has started off well.
There have been heaps of families staying here over the two weeks, mostly with younger children but some with teenagers as well so we are going to have to expand our DVD collection that’s for sure. The Mountain Goats programme on the mountain has been very popular with the kids as it has given them a bit of structure to their days on the hill. The instructors get an idea of their ability and then group them into lessons where they have some fun and upskill. They come back tired and happy, have a spa and then ready for their dinner at 6pm. We’ve got kids cruising around outside now playing spotlight before bed, they’ve all found mates and are having fun.
At the beginning of next week I think we’ll have to have a big round of congratulations as the staff have been amazing. Everyone’s been a bit stretched. We had a raft of sickness the first week and everyone seems to have had turns at staying home but we’ve got through it and they’ve been working days off and just being fab!
We have the Irish weekend in a couple of weeks which will be a good fun party to look forward to. Our weekends are mostly fully booked but there is STILL PLENTY OF SPACE MID WEEK so come then! We really look forward to having you to stay.
Hope you are enjoying your winter wherever you are.
16 May, 2009
Craig came down from the mountain a couple of nights ago exclaiming we had loads of snow …… with another word in front of loads!! We were very fortunate with the 2008 season but we are starting out with unparalleled snow this year. In our 23 years of operating the Snow Field we have never had so much snow so early. Snowmaking is still the key though to being able to promise a July school holidays opening. Last year, these holidays were one of the highlights and so much fun. We had gorgeous families staying, all the kids eating and skiing together had a ball but it was the parents getting into our fancy dress cupboard that was such a laugh.
The recognition of being voted the Supreme Award winner for the best service of any ski field in New Zealand was a huge plus last year. This was on the snow.co.nz website and is the 2nd time we have received this award. It blows me away when you think of all the flash resorts that we are up against but just goes to show that you can’t win against great staff and many are returning again this year.
They are lead by Craig Ovenden our Operations Manager who we could not do without. He is a kind mate who is extremely able and hard working. Craig spent part of our summer grooming at Whistler on the World Cup Nordic combined event course and then went to Italy to look at the Techno Alpin snowmaking there. Winnie who is Craig’s right hand man has returned after a few years away which is comforting as he is very capable around machinery and a lovely guy. Sarah who was in reception last season is coming back to oversee both ticket office on the mountain and reception at the Lodge. She is one super woman who really makes a difference. Andrew, Tamara, Nicole and Nate, all professional, fun and enthusiastic instructors will be back in ski school, (voted best snow school in NZ in the service award). Chris Shelley who has been our Head Patroller from Big Sky in Montana is back for one last time. He has made a big difference to our operation. He is a machine of a man who can have walked all the tops of the mountain by daybreak to make sure that the field is open by 9am every day. Those who keep him company and very much part of the professional team are Tony Donaldson and Kate Young, both kiwis and machines in their own right. Last but definitely not least is Rossa, our most capable, good natured and entertaining Irish chef from last season who is going to run the café this year.
Right now in the Lodge, we have our new assistant manager Al from Bradford in the UK on board. He arrived at the end of February and can’t wait to get his teeth into the busy winter scene. He has been thrown in the deep end on a couple of occasions already and managed to keep his head up so we have high hopes for him being able to take over some of our roles. The kitchen is manned by our two fantastic Chefs, nice guys and enthusiastic snowboarders still here from last year Brad and Scotty. We get so many compliments on their food, it would be easy to be blasé but we are very aware how critical a part they play. Staying on from this summer are our two waitresses, Ashleigh from Oamaru and Liz from Manchester and our housekeepers from Germany Jana and Mirko who also can’t wait to be part of the winter scene. Paul our barman has been travelling the world over the last couple of months to refresh himself for his 4th winter at Ohau. We also have Mark who is originally from Omarama and is employed in maintenance who has been doing a fantastic job on the outside grounds this summer, I’m sure you will see the difference. All in all we are extremely fortunate with the “Ohau family” that we are part of.
Personally, Mike and I have both lost our mothers since last winter. They have been lynch pins with much emotional and practical support to us and our children. Family wise, Willie our eldest is now living in San Francisco with his girlfriend Cameron, buying and selling gemstones. Jock is in Queenstown doing a hotel management course – thank God and Eily is in her last year at school and thinking about doing art in Wellington but helping out here in the holidays. Max the dog is very frustrated at the moment as his girlfriend in the village is on heat and he is driving us all mad with his whining and constant barking! And I’m OK but getting fat as I’m not walking Max!
We look forward to seeing you again this winter.
Thank you very much for your continued support.
Mike and Louise
PS. Our menagerie of animals has been added to with two lambs – EJ and Periwinkle.
20 NOVEMBER 2008
We have our new summer website up and running – yey!!
That is exciting but the most exciting thing of all is that we were voted as the Supreme Award winner on the snow.co.nz website for the best service given to our visitors in the 2008 season.
Congratulations to all our gorgeous staff now spread all over the world.
Best Access Road
Best Lift Department
Best Kept Toilets
Best Café Satisfaction
1st= Best Snowsports School
This is the 2nd time that we have won this award, the first being in 2004 and we are the only small area to have ever won. It’s usually the big boys – so that’s extra kudos.
So to summer………
The tours have started. We have held two fabulous weddings here already this season and looking forward to another before Christmas and we also have some family reunions booked next year - always a lovely thing to be involved in.
The native mistletoe for which this area is known for has started to flower in the tops of the beech forest
The night skies lately have been lovely to observe in the early evenings - Matariki should be able to be seen soon - that's my favourite!
Christmas and school holidays are not far away. Lazing down by the lake, mountain biking, walking up in the beautiful Hopkins valley or in the beech forests that have plenty of tracks for exploring. So see you here or out and about in it!
14 SEPTEMBER, 2008
Spring has sprung and so the perfect time for family skiing and getting the kids out on the slopes. I love this time of year, boot picnics, barbeques and deck chairs. It’s lovely to be up in the snow with some warmth and sun on your face but just remember the sunscreen and eye protection. I always worry when I see babies up the mountain without any glasses or goggles on.
There’s only 3 weeks left of the season and it’s going to go fast. At present up on the mountain, the mornings have been quite firm until it warms up but then there has been some fabulous corn conditions and plenty of good comment on the amount of snow and the good days being had.
This weekend we have the Snow Ball with the zany Vague As Brothers playing which I’m really looking forward to. Of course the costumes are always great fun, some people really go all out. In past years we’ve had all the characters from the Thunderbirds – Lady Penelope, Brains, Virgil etc, a whole circus troupe from the ring master to bearded ladies and contortionists, but my favourite was Bod dressed as a digger. There he was in the middle of the dance in the bar winding up his digger arm and negotiating the crowd, it was very funny.
Hopefully some will wear their costumes on the mountain on Sunday.
We had Taos and MC Mana playing in the bar on Sunday night. Skeptic (from Queenstown?!) and Hennez from Dunedin DJ’d and Taos also had Tyrone scratching. It ended up being a bit of a staff party so we were really treated to a great night and everyone was buzzing.
Now it is nearly school holidays so make the most of the good snow and get up here and enjoy the end of the season. Check out the Temple wing dinner bed and breakfast packages or if you are on more of a budget there is the Huxley wing. I hope we get to see lots of families over the next few weeks, I love seeing those tables of kids all dining together.
18 AUGUST, 2008
More snow happening outside as I write this. We really are having a bumper season.
The last two Saturdays have been record numbers on the mountain which has been extremely encouraging after the big snowmaking investment of the summer. We had ½ metre of new snow for everyone on the Saturday of Scottish weekend so there were many eager guests ready to hit the slopes. Still the mountain didn’t look busy but the car parks and facilities were full and the cover is now superb!
We’re recovering from the best ever Scottish night in the Lodge. We had 144 people all sitting at long tables of 20, dressed up in their kilts and ready for anything thrown their way. The restaurant was decked out in tartan flags, the candles lit, fire roaring and snow falling outside. We roped in 3 volunteers from our guests to assist in the haggis ceremony which is the first thing on the programme. They were asked to carry in the haggis, the whisky and the big Scottish sword and the procession were piped around the restaurant to loud applause. One “not to be named physio from Queenstown” who carried the haggis was dressed totally appropriately in a plastic tartan ½ kilt, the ½ missing was the back half! Great legs though! And so it went on….. lots of whisky consumed, lots of enthusiastic dancing to the world famous Scottish Mac Black Velvet Band…. and lots of tired people the next morning, not such a record crowd on the Sunday.
The Station vs Station obstacle race was very well patronized and we saw a lot of locals who are not normally on the mountain keen to be involved. It is definitely going to be a regular on the Event Calendar from now on. Buscot Station were the winners. Thank you to the local businesses, Omarama Hotel, Vet Life Omarama, Omarama Vet, Merino NZ and Alpine Springs and Spa for supporting the event.
Coming up in a couple of weeks we have the Burton Cake Bake Off, Powder 8s and the Bank Slalom. This was a big part of our Calendar back in the day and has been reinstated to mark the 10th anniversary of New Zealand Snowboarder Magazine. We’re really looking forward to it. The Cake Bake Off always produces some pretty unique cakes. Michelle from Vudu Café in Queenstown – a remarkable cake baker in her own right – is to be one of the judges. If you are entering the Powder 8’s check the entry form out to ensure that you have all categories to be judged ticked – including the matching clothing!
Be there or be square!
6 AUGUST 2008
THE SNOW GODS ARE SMILING ON OHAU THIS SEASON with regular snowfalls providing great cover over the whole mountain. It looks amazing and even though we are getting good numbers on the hill, when you look up, there’s no crowds. There might have been 10 people in front of me waiting to get onto the lift on Sunday afternoon! I have to also say that the hiking was absolutely worth it that day – fresh tracks and they are still there to be had.
One of the nicest things about living at Ohau is getting to know the people who pass through. We’ve just had the pleasure of Jake and Donna from Burton Snowboards visiting with their family and a couple of pro riders Mikkel Bang included, it is always nice to see them and to know that they enjoy coming to Ohau. We also had “Blotto” staying for a few nights with pro riders Nicolas Mueller and Frederik Kalbermatten who were hoping to shoot some footage for the next Burton catalogue but the weather didn’t clear sufficiently unfortunately. They did get some reward for much hanging around on the afternoon of their last day here. After almost nil visibility all morning the cloud cleared for a few hours and everyone went nuts making the most of the 15cms of new snow. We hope to see them back before they leave the country.
The weekends have been huge in the Lodge with lots of parties and large groups getting together for weekends. There have been a lot of familiar faces and a lot of new ones that we hope to see again. Our week days have been building steadily but mostly there is still some availability over this time. It has been nice to have the time to chat with guests and yesterday I had a lovely walk with Max our dog and Lorraine Satterthwaite, one of our guests who has been coming here for many years and is staying for the week with her family.
Ladies Day has started today and will be a regular Wednesday attraction for the remainder of the season. Kate White, who is a yoga teacher from the Kurow valley is starting the day with a stretch class in the bar at the Lodge at 9.30. It’s then up the mountain for a C4 coffee then Jemma our head instructor will get everyone going with lessons to improve in whatever area they are wanting to focus on. We’re hoping that local women will enjoy this chance to be together and have a fun day out.
We’ve also got our Station vs Station obstacle race tomorrow. This was postponed from last week and is a first for Ohau with local run holders in teams vying for the honour of being top station for 2008.
We are looking forward to the weeks ahead, renewing old friendships and making new ones.
17 JULY 2008
We are almost at the end of the school holidays and it has been a huge amount of fun. The Lodge has been full of families. We ended up last night with 42 children all seated together at two long tables for the 6pm children’s dinner. An impromptu fancy dress party organized by some of the parents was hilarious and most of the staff ended up dressing up as well. We are already missing the departing families and look forward to seeing them again next year. I’m sure new friendships have been forged with the parents who sat with each other on the various nights. All the kids wanted to say goodbye to Paul our barman and Kate our Maitre’d. Sarah our receptionist’s cookie monster costume was ogled by lots of the little children.
The comments have all been about our family oriented approach, how lovely our staff have been and how good the meals were. Last night’s roast pork belly with crackling and apple sauce looked delicious.
On the mountain the feedback has been great too - again about our great staff and the nice feel of the mountain.
The snowmaking has definitely made a difference and the trails have been excellent. A lot of people have been hiking the ridge to get the powder runs and check out the view of Aoraki Mount Cook, but there has been a lot of good snow in other areas as well.
The comments have been:
“Loved the Day Lodge atmosphere and it’s relaxed feel”
“Great having no queues”
“Ski school was busy but our kids loved their instructor and it was really nice being able to request them back each day”
“The terrain park on the platter slope was great fun”
“Loved my new rental skis”
Our weekends for the rest of the season are mostly fully booked. We are taking waitlists as there are bound to be some last minute cancellations but MID WEEK IS THE TIME TO BOOK.
There is availability for the last Saturday of the season when we are going to have Hot Dog Day. Fancy Dress is our forte and everyone will be wearing the tragic one piece last seen on the slopes in 1967 or the little fluoro puffa jacket and trying to manage skinny skis and old school snowboards.
First Snowmaking Starts At Ohau
Fully automated snow making at Ohau is now a reality. At 8.10pm on Tuesday 5th June, the Techno Alpin system burst into operation as the first four of 23 new A30 lances began producing snow. Then as the temperatures continued to drop, further clusters of snow guns began making snow in the still, clear Mackenzie country night air. The lights of the snow guns illuminate the slopes and the plumes of snow making a spectacular sight. The system is fully automated with the snow guns opening up automatically during the night without any need for operator intervention on the mountain. Mountain manager Craig Ovenden monitored the action on his laptop at home in the Lake Ohau Village and just to make sure it was actually happening as it should, he was able to look out his window to check that the gun lights were on. The system worked perfectly and the Techno System did its job under the cover of the chilly night sky.
With the low temperatures, the guns operated through to 10 am the next day. ‘” If skiers came to the upper slopes today, they’d need snorkels,” announced an exuberant Craig.
The user friendly software is so simple to use. The start up of the pumps and compressors is driven by a signal from the guns that there are at least four of them ready to make snow based on the optimum conditions - 3oC wet bulb temperature (a combination of air temperature and relative humidity) and light winds. The parameters are set for each gun, auto is selected and the snow-making action commences automatically when the conditions are just right.
It is calculated that the system will take around 100 hours to cover the main trail from the top of the chairlift and the learner slopes with 30 cms of snow and that by the 28th of June Ohau will be set to open as planned. Snowmaking continued on Wednesday night.
The project has taken just under 4months to complete, on time and within the $2.2 million budget. “This is an incredibly pleasing achievement and all thanks to excellent contractors, great professionals, an innovative designer, a technically advanced and supportive supplier and a relentless drive from Craig our mountain manager and site project manager”, says Mike Neilson, owner and operator of Ohau Snow Fields.
For more details:
Mike & Louise Neilson
Ohau Snow Fields
Ph: 03 438 9885