Ohau Snow Field

Above and beyond

What’s the view like from your office? For our team working at Ohau Ski Field, the panoramic scenery of the Mackenzie Country was a major bonus while working here. From a professional standpoint, the final result was a sight to behold too…

If you’re a snow sports fan Ohau is one of those ‘must-do’ destinations. The club field in southern Canterbury boasts incredible views, some exciting terrain and fun and friendly family atmosphere. In 1953 five local run holders advanced the Mt Cook Company £100 to install a rope tow (in return they received free skiing for life). Since then the field and lodge have seen different generations raised on the field. Since the 1980s, when current owners Mike and Louise Neilson took over, the reputation for warm ‘at home’ hospitality has grown. So too has lodge and field. No matter the changes, ‘service with a smile’ is non-negotiable for Mike and Louise. We wanted to ensure our work left them beaming too
“We’ve discussed the job for quite some time,” says Mike. “Richard impressed me with his diligence, his customer service was second to none.” “The second reason (for choosing National Decorators) was that they provided an excellent, well-constructed quote,” he says. “It was easy to understand, which enabled us to make a decision in his favour.”
We thought long and hard about the best products and processes for painting the fourteen towers and the two wheelhouses here. One of the major decisions made early on was with the type of paint that would be used. A heavy-duty result was vital.
That’s because the towers take a battering year round. In the winter there’s snow, hail and freezing conditions. In the summer, with the basin covered in rocks, a sandblasting effect from dust delivers an abrasive force upon the towers.With our experience on North Island fields we knew paint had to deal with this force – and also to cure to temperatures as low as 1 degree. We needed to factor in the severe weather conditions, completing as much as possible between January and March when the weather was settled.
The 4WD trip from the Lake Ohau lodge to the site each day was an exciting one – you never quite knew what the day would bring weather-wise. Then there was the challenge getting power and water supplies to the work site, and building modular platforms to access the towers. “They did it methodically,” says Mike, “Working through holiday periods and weekends they made sure the job got done. We stressed the tight timeframe to them and they responded accordingly.”
For the project team, Dallis Lima-Dias, Eli Cruz and Norm Waite, hard work planning paid off and the work was undertaken with time to spare. However Mike’s unsure if this is a good thing – evoking Murphy’s Law in explanation. “It seems that as soon as you take a tyre off the grader the snow arrives – it likes to catch you out,” he says. “So perhaps we should have stalled painting the last tower to ensure the snow arrived ahead of schedule?” Sorry Mike. While we take pride in our logistical skills, securing the arrival of fresh powder wasn’t in the scope…  

The big picture

3 ski lifts (chair, platter, snowmat)

14 towers

Temperature range during work: -2 to 22

Base altitude: 1400m

Highest altitude: 1825m