Leitner: Successful Launch for New Zealand´s First 8-Seater Chair

Just 90 minutes from Christchurch, the slopes of Mount Hutt are among New Zealand’s most popular skiing areas. By building the country’s first 8-seater chairlift, LEITNER has provided a further boost to the resort’s quality, meaning shorter waiting times and maximum operational safety. The chairlift has also been specially prepared for the weather conditions particular to the South Island’s top winter sports region.


Being so near to Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, and enjoying New Zealand’s longest skiing season, the Mount Hutt ski area is a big favourite with the public. With 40 kilometres of slopes, the resort has been voted the nation’s most popular ski area six times in a row (2015 to 2020). Up until now, two surface lifts and three chairlifts have transported skiers to the area’s highest point at 2,190 metres.

LEITNER’s new “Nor'west Express” – the first 8-seater chairlift in the country – makes the journey not only more comfortable, but also significantly faster. Travelling the route of the old lift, the new system takes around 3,000 people per hour directly to the start of popular intermediate trails and terrain parks in just two minutes instead of the previous seven.


As well as doubling transport capacity, the 686-metre-long “Nor’west Express” features an especially stable design. Powered by a DirectDrive system, it was specially designed for the weather conditions on Mount Hutt, which are often extreme.

Two factors particularly ensure maximum operational safety on particularly cold and windy days:

  • The application of de-icing liquid made of glycol to the cable as it passes through the station and the premium chairs with vertical oscillation dampers.
  • Equipping it with individual footrests guarantees a secure ride experience.

The operator, NZ Ski, invested in increasing the comfort.

The overall result is:

  • reduced waiting time for the passengers
  • fewer delays and stops in the stations
  • maximum wind stability

The operator’s targets were therefore already achieved and even exceeded during the first outage-free month of operation. Logistical top performance, despite the pandemic Ski resort manager James McKenzie is delighted with how the system has turned out.

“Our experience with LEITNER has been absolutely fantastic! Despite the impact the pandemic could have had on production, what with border closures, freight delays and such like, the project was delivered on time and within budget. Every effort was made to optimize the design to suit our needs, minimize freight costs and ensure that the equipment was delivered on time. Because of their standards of safety and workmanship, working with the LEITNER installation teams from Europe and New Zealand has become the benchmark for future ropeway projects.”

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