Around 1200 visitors came to enjoy the great weather and festivities at The Discover Mt Hutt Open Day, jointly hosted by Mt Hutt Ski Area & the Methven Lions, on Saturday March 3.
They raised more than $25k for local community groups and causes. The day is now the Methven Lions’ main annual fundraising event. Methven Travel, Mt Hutt staff and other locals also volunteered.
By 10am the high speed six-seater Summit Six was cranking and a variety of mountain bikers, sightseers and walkers were rewarded with stunning views across the Canterbury Plains as they disembarked off the chairlift.
“It’s crazy to think that earlier in the week we were worried about visibility,” says Ski Area Manager James McKenzie.
“When we woke up to sunshine we felt pretty excited. We know how breath-taking the views are from the top of the Summit are and we wanted to share them!”
As well as unlimited access to the mountain terrain, live music, a gigantic ‘slip n slide’ and scenic helicopter rides were all on offer to entertain. New for this year was a behind the scenes tour of the ski area, where participants were granted access to some of the usually restricted areas of the facilities. The tour guide (James himself) explained the inner workings of how things operate in the winter months.
“Getting this behind the scenes pre-season look at our ski resort – voted the best in New Zealand – is a real treat for locals, and helps people understand the complexities of running a ski area,’” says James.
Hubers Hut restaurant was open and volunteers worked tirelessly serving coffees and hot food non‑stop. Ski area suppliers had donated the coffee, food and other goodies for the day – helping to significantly maximise fundraising efforts. Big Al’s were on standby to repair punctures and medical services were kindly also provided by local volunteers.
The world famous Methven Lions BBQ was sold out by the end of the day, as were the gourmet burgers made by volunteers from Our Lady of the Snows School.
“We were absolutely thrilled with the turn out,” says Methven Lions President Bruce Sim.
“Around 1,200 were there to enjoy day with us, many of them told me they had never been to Mt Hutt before”
“But by all accounts, they all want to come back next year,” he adds.
In the lead up to the day, the Mt Hutt team had installed an additional 60 clamps onto the lift, meaning each chair could carry two bikes simultaneously. A ramp and steps to unload and load passengers safely at the summit were also installed.
“It just makes the set up so easy,” explains James.
“We no longer have to worry about piling up hay bales to help guests to disembark safely.”
“The ramp and steps are now a permanent fixture and will be used in the winter to unload skiers and snowboarders on to the snow, but it also means we can continue to work with the Lions to make this an annual event”
“The Lions are such an important part of our community; it is an honour for Mt Hutt to be in a position to help coordinate such a worthy fundraising event”
In total around $26,000 was raised and with so many suppliers donating products most of this will be distributed to community & charity groups as selected by the Lions. Mt Hutt Helicopters kindly made a donation from their scenic flight takings and with all staff volunteering their time the costs to be deducted are minimal.
Planning is underway for the 2019 event which will be held on Saturday 2nd March.