Ski field sale offers fun run for new owner

11:00 AM Saturday November 1, 2014 Colin Taylor

Mt Dobson skifield chairlift.

The business, buildings and assets comprising Mt Dobson skifield, in the South Island and situated directly off the main tourist route of State Highway 8 between Christchurch and Queenstown, have been placed on the market.

The 400 hectare Mt Dobson ski area is 65 km from Timaru and 25 km west of Fairlie which is the closest township.

“Developed by the Foote family in the 1970s, the ski field operation has built up a loyal customer base, with a range of terrain that caters to all levels of skiers and snowboarders,” says Kate Mullins of Bayleys Canterbury who is selling it by negotiation. 

“Mount Dobson Ski Area has placed the business, equipment, buildings and Crown concession on the market with an option to also buy land and a workshop building in Fairlie,” Mullins says.

The buildings on Mt Dobson include a staff accommodation building, generator workshop, ski hire, café and ticket office, first aid room, ski school office and toilet block adjacent to the car park.On-site assets include three snow-groomers and some snow-making equipment.

Mullins says the  freehold workshop and section at 30 Alloway Street, Fairlie, which is used for servicing the ski field machinery, has a nine-bay maintenance workshop of 600 sq m built on 1012 sq m of land.

“Offers upwards of $1.2 million are expected for the ski field while the Fairlie section and workshop has a ratable value of $60,000.”

The boutique ski field is spread over two large mountain basins and offers uncrowded trails to test skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Twenty per cent of the slopes are rated as suitable for beginners, 50 per cent for intermediate skiers and 30 per cent of the terrain graded for advanced skiers. Four lifts service the runs which are able to carry a total capacity of 4000 people an hour.

True Commercial - Mt Dobson skifield - chairlift & run below.jpg

Mt Dobson chairlift with ski and snowboarding run below. 

The ski field’s south-westerly aspect has an altitude of 1725 metres above sea level making it the highest ski area car park in New Zealand.

Its location close to the main divide of the Southern Alps makes Mt Dobson ideally positioned to receive natural snow cover which allows the business to capitalise on a long ski season,” Mullins says.

“A new owner could expand the ski field’s activities both on and off-season and the business is ready to be taken to the next level. There is plenty of capacity to expand the existing tows and lifts to open up new runs in order to increase earnings. Additionally building and service facilities on the mountain could be further developed.”

Mullins says an abundance of water on the mountain in natural waterways allows for the development of significant snowmaking facilities.  

“Ski and snow board training programmes with primary and secondary schools in Canterbury have already been set up by Mt Dobson, and considerable patronage comes from this source. There is also potential for increasing customer capacity through investment and wider marketing.”

Mullins says the rental of the ski area is based on turnover and a long term lease is in place with the current concession from the Crown having 39 years left to run.

“The ski area is managed day-to-day basis by founder and owner, Peter Foote, who is assisted by 12 permanent staff including two managers who live on-site, and seasonal staff as required during the winter months.”

Mullins says the sale of Mt Dobson offers a buyer a specialist lifestyle that combines being able to enjoy a fun sporting activity and ambience while catering to visitors to the area.

“This is a business opportunity with plenty of room for development that could appeal to a keen skier, investor or a group looking to secure a private ski field for training.”

She says the current owner is retiring after 35 years but would be happy to offer his wealth of knowledge and experience to a new owner during an extensive hand-owner period should this be required.

Mullins says the area benefits from being part of the Canterbury region, which has been named at the top of the list of Destinations on the Rise according to the Travellers’ Choice of Destinations published by the tourism related website Trip Advisor.