New Zealand ski areas encourage Kiwis to take their “gap year” in the mountains this winter

The Ski Area Association of New Zealand (SAANZ) is encouraging New Zealanders to consider taking their OE in a mountain town this winter, working for one of the country’s 27 ski areas.

With the 2021 ski season fast approaching, the industry estimates they will be short by some 1200 seasonal workers, so are calling on Kiwis to fill the gap.

Historically the industry’s workforce has been 50% New Zealanders and 50% internationals.

In the 2020 season, border closures prevented many businesses from obtaining key staff resulting in ski areas being under-staffed and unable to open all parts of their business, while some smaller club fields were unable to open at all.

General Manager Cardrona & Treble Cone Bridget Legnavsky says the industry is working together on a workforce strategy to enable ski areas to be resourced appropriately to deliver their full offering safely, give New Zealand citizens and residents opportunities to gain employment and futureproof the workforce.

“We are collaborating as an industry to set ourselves up for the future where our domestic workforce becomes our fundamental workforce.

“Right now, more than ever, we are trying to attract New Zealanders to come and work at the resorts sitting on their door-steps. An OE is a rite of passage for Kiwis and with the borders closed we’re encouraging everyone to consider spending a winter in a mountain town like Ohakune, Ohau, Queenstown or Wānaka,” Bridget says.

Ski areas around the country are beginning to ramp up their efforts to recruit Kiwis including visiting schools and polytechs, running apprenticeship programmes, offering training and personal development initiatives and emphasising recruitment in their winter marketing campaigns.

NZSki is trying to entice people to consider gaining their snowsports instructor qualifications by bringing back the Rookie Instructor Programme, an apprenticeship initiative they ran 15 years ago.

“The Rookie Programme is a professional pathway to becoming a Snowsports Instructor that allows anyone who is an advanced skier or snowboarder to gain an internationally recognised Level 1 qualification while working and earning. We’ll cover the cost of the qualification so it’s great way for Kiwis to get into a snowsports career,” Paul Anderson, CEO NZSki says.

Sarah Webster, Human Resources Manager at Ruapehu Alpine Lifts says they are proactively working in their region to create opportunities for employment through their cadet programmes and alongside Taupo Pathways to give people an introduction into what roles are available.

“We have many examples in our team of people who came to work as a liftie or in the F&B department for a season and are now in senior leadership positions. We encourage people to come spend a season with us and potentially take that step into a career in the snowsports industry.”

James Lazor from Mt Dobson encourages those who love the outdoors and are thinking of taking a break from uni or considering a career change to look to the smaller ski areas and club fields around the country too.

“Some of our smaller ski areas were sharing resources last year, and a few of the club fields couldn’t open at all due to not being able to find people for certain positions.

“There are several highly skilled roles in the snowsports industry where a certain level of skill or certification is required as well as considerable experience gained over multiple winter seasons,” he says.

“We’re encouraging Kiwis to consider stepping into these roles and gaining qualifications with us this winter. When the borders open the skills they gain will provide great opportunities to travel and work overseas when it’s safe to do so.”

For more information on the roles available you can visit:




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