Businesses around Mount Ruapehu are missing their visitors from Auckland with it still overseeing Covid-19 alert level 4.
In nearby Ohakune, the effects of the alert level restrictions were expected to occur as an avalanche, but most appear to withstand the storm.
There was a wave of excitement among those who trudged around the base of the Whakapapa ski area on Mount Ruapehu, ready to hit the slopes.
But despite a bright blue sky, only the upper parking lot contained vehicles.
The Alert Level 2 restrictions meant numbers were capped at 3,000 for Whakapapa and 2,500 at the Turoa ski area across the maunga.
Ruapehu Alpine Lifts chief operating officer Travis Donoghue said the lockdown could not have come at a worse time, having a “significant impact” on the business which only operates “for four months.”
Donoghue was silent on the economic impact, but acknowledged that the weeks lost in August, and Auckland still on Alert Level 4, were difficult.
However, given the current circumstances, he was satisfied with the numbers obtained for the first week of Alert Level 2.
Donoghue said there had been good demand so far and they were working at near maximum capacity which was more manageable without the Auckland crowds.
In nearby Ohakune, local district councilor and business owner Janelle Hinch said going to Alert Level 4 last month was difficult for many people.
She knew hosting providers went from complete to empty in a flash, having to reimburse customers who probably wouldn’t return this year.
Hinch said it sounded like a “first world problem” when talking about the impact of closing ski slopes.
“But there are a lot of companies here who are the lifeblood of their business.”
She said it was “the equivalent of a farmer losing his harvest”.
Hinch said it was hard not to have the Auckland crowd in town – but noted the supervisor was making their own hard mahi at the moment.
She said the upcoming school holidays could be decisive for some companies and hoped more alert level changes would occur before that date.
Hinch was “really, really, really hoping that everyone would get the shot, get the tests done, so we just hit this thing on the head.”
“I hope everyone will be free by the school holidays – we will have a great October.”
Local TCB Ski, Board and Bike store owner Ben Wiggins remained optimistic but knew he had already lost a lot of key business.
He said that “probably the most upsetting time” since the August lockdown was “to be here in Ohakune and gaze at the mountain every day from your house, with over two feet of fresh, dry powder. and fluffy – sun every day – and not being able to go up “.
But Wiggins was taking matters in his stride, helped by the inhabitants of the Lower North Island who did a bit of, what he called, “revenge shopping.”
“Everyone comes straight out of confinement, they say to themselves’ we have to go do stuff! “and everyone is excited,” he said.
“We certainly saw a strong spike in people coming down over the weekend.”
Although it is heading towards the end of Ruapehu’s ski season, the main message from locals was that all of Aotearoa continue to work for the elimination of Covid-19 so that more people can enjoy one last explosion of winter fun.