Tourists heading for the snow this winter will be able to get extra flexibility from a scheme run by South Island skifields, uniting traditionally competing fields under one ski pass.
OnePassNZ provides access to 2230ha of terrain at Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone, Snowpark, Snowfarm, Ohau, Mt Dobson, Roundhill and the Porters ski area.
The interchangeable pass offers access to all the skifields and is loaded with "snow dollars" that can be used to buy time on the snow or other off-mountain activities.
Treble Cone marketing manager Nigel Kerr said he had been pushing the idea for years and was pleased to have got it off the ground.
For skiers, it would mean they could book their holidays knowing that if the weather put one skifield out of action they could ski at another. Or if it was raining, they could use their pass for other activities altogether.
"People like coming to Wanaka but don't want to commit. This gives them surety."
Kerr said it was a major achievement to have ski operators, who usually would be competing, working together. "It was stunning to get an agreement between Cardrona and Treble Cone."
It then proved to be easier than he had expected to attract independent skifields.
Lake Wanaka Tourism general manager James Helmore said the idea would be "huge" for the area. "It gives consumers ultimate flexibility and freedom of choice and allows them to travel with confidence."
Kerr said it offered benefits for the fields in marketing and the kind of tourists that would be attracted to the pass. OnePassNZ was being marketed at people who were serious skiers, not going for a party weekend in Queenstown with a bit of snow thrown in.
He said all the fields realised they needed to improve their identities in the wider market.
Even the bigger operators, such as Cardrona, would benefit from the marketing push. "It's a bit bigger, but still, competing in the wider world is hard work."
Kerr said the pass would mean skiers and snowboarders were mobile across the eight fields and it would tie the operators together to make the South Island a more enjoyable winter destination.
Smaller fields would offer a day pass and some change in snow dollars for those travelling with a OnePassNZ.
Off-mountain activities covered by the pass include skydiving, jet-boating and wine trails. Pass-holders would also be able to use it to rent gear, pay for lessons and buy dinner at local restaurants.
Kerr said it was great to see his plan come to fruition.
"I used to work for Cardrona and [the pass] was a little dream. Then, this year, when I kicked it out and it didn't get kicked back, I thought 'we're away'."
* Passes cost $95 a day, with additional days at $90. Season passes are not available.By Susan Edmunds Email Susan