Mt Hutt is located in Canterbury, on the South Island of New Zealand, near the town of Methven. It is owned and operated by NZSki who also operate Coronet Peak and The Remarkables in Queenstown. Mt Hutt is one of the major commercial ski fields in New Zealand.
Mt Hutt is known for its fantastic views. On a clear day you can actually see all the way to the Pacific Ocean while, out the back, the Southern Alps stretch as far as you can see.
The nearest town to Mt Hutt is Methven (16kms). Methven is located about an hour to the west of Christchurch, which has the major international airport for the South Island. Staff generally all live in Methven and staff transport to work is provided to and from the ski area.
www.methventravel.co.nz offer a shuttle bus service from Christchurch Airport into Methven. Prices start at around $50 and Methven Travel usually offers Mt Hutt staff a discount upon presentation of their employment offer letter.
Photo: Riding a bowl at Mt Hutt
As any returning seasonal worker at Mt Hutt will testify, being so exposed, Mt Hutt can bear the brunt of extreme weather.
For example, in a previous season, a three metre dump of snow produced a massive avalanche that destroyed the Triple Chairlift, while winds in excess of 250kph ripped the steel roof off the return station of the Summit 6 chair and punched holes in the walls of Mt Hutt's base lodge. Staff and guests were trapped up on the mountain overnight and hail stones the size of mini-cream eggs pelted the mountain as staff descended the mountain on the final day.
However, extreme weather aside, the snow is among the most consistent in New Zealand, as Mt Hutt is one the highest mountains in New Zealand. The vertical drop, at 680 metres, is also one of the largest in New Zealand.
You will share the slopes with local school kids as well as world-class freestyle and alpine ski racing athletes. With around 60% of staff returning each season, Mt Hutt has one of the highest return rates of ski field staff in New Zealand.
Methven is also much cheaper than Queenstown and Wanaka to live which is another reason why seasonal workers are attracted to Mt Hutt.
Mt Hutt is one of New Zealand's highest mountain resorts, with one of the largest vertical drops. The lift infrastructure is among the best in New Zealand.
However, the terrain is mostly suited to beginner and intermediate riders. It is also a very small mountain, with just 365 hectares (900 acres) of skiable terrain. The terrain is mostly treeless, which allows you to go off-piste easily.
Advanced riders will start to find Mt Hutt limited towards the end of working there an entire season. You will likely want to check out the other ski fields in the Canterbury area over the course of the season to push yourself a little more.
The best terrain is through the South Face. It requires a bit of a traverse from the top of the chair, but the bowl offers some extremely nice bowl riding. The Rakaia Saddle Chutes offer some nice, additional back country.
At 2km long, International is a nice run for intermediate to advanced skiers and riders. Offering undulating terrain, a perfect fall line for grooming and automatic snow-making, International also benefits from all day sun.
For days off work, the Canterbury area has a number of 'club fields' (member operated and not commercially run ski areas) which have some excellent back country terrain to explore. Work a Winter Season in New Zealand has more information.
Photo: Corduroy on 'International' at Mt Hutt
Average snowfall is around 4m, which is large relative to other major New Zealand resorts, though the snow can still be quite variable, from powder to crunchy ice. The season is one of the longest in New Zealand with, on average, more 'open' days than most other resorts. Due to its bowls, Mt Hutt is a real catchment for snow.
Mt Hutt lies exposed at the edge of a mountain range, and consequently receives cold and strong southerly winds. The ski area and windy access road are vulnerable to being closed for this reason. Even when the ski area is open, it may be that not all lifts are operating. Mt Hutt averages 14 days per season of being closed due to poor weather.
You take the good with the bad, of course, as bad weather often leads to more snow.
There are four freestyle parks. The major ones are the Tararua Iced Coffee and Dirty Dog Terrain Parks.
Dirty Dog has features aimed towards the beginner skier or snowboarder with capable skills in sliding rails and boxes and no issues popping some air time. Features include two 15ft tables, up flat box, flat box, rainbow box, drum can bonk and down bar rail.
The Tararua Iced Coffee Park is the more advanced park. Features include triple jump line (35ft, 45ft, 65ft), stair set with 7.2m narrow flat box, small drum can bonk, flat high bar rail, set up gap to flat box, single down bar rail and 10ft gap to drum bonk.
The season usually commences in June and runs until October. The season dates are dependent on snow conditions.
Just one hour from Christchurch on Inland Scenic Route 72, Methven is a small alpine village which is lively in both winter and summer. Methven acts as the base for Mt Hutt, six Canterbury club fields, and many of the best heli-skiing companies in New Zealand and consequently attracts a large number of powderhounds each season.
In summer, the region offers visitors an array of hiking & walking experiences; from short walks, to challenging multi-day hikes for the serious tramper. Other popular outdoor activities range from mountain biking & cycling, fishing, hunting, golf and hot air ballooning to skydiving, horse riding, jet boating, and 4WD high country adventures.
The locals are very friendly and there are more than a dozen local eateries from country pubs to high-end restaurants. The region's visitor guide has more information www.amazingspace.co.nz
The Mt Hutt ski base itself is small with just a few services for the mountain. Springfield is another town in the area which services more of the club fields nearby.
All recruitment for NZSki is done via www.nzski.com/employment/NZSki-Jobs.jsp
When you apply, you will select a preference for the mountain you wish to work with - so select Mt Hutt.
Recruitment for NZSki opens in early February each year.
See Jobs Available at Mountain Resorts for a description of ski resort jobs.
The major advantage of working for the hill, as opposed to finding a job in Methven, is that you will be a part of the staff parties and get to meet a lot more people as a worker on the hill. Moreover, most the jobs in local bars and restaurants in Methven and Springfield go to locals each season.
Minimum wage in New Zealand is $15.25 and most jobs pay around this. For roles that require more qualifications, skills and/or experience the rates will be higher.
Many of the staff at Mt Hutt will also get second jobs in town at Methven over the season to earn a bit extra throughout the season. To save money, you should bring lunch up to the mountain each day as the mountain restaurants have mountain prices.
Seasonal workers at Mt Hutt usually come from all over the globe, including Australia, Europe and North America. For foreign applicants, it is much easier to get a job with NZSki if you have already have a New Zealand working visa. See Work a Winter Season in New Zealand for further details about getting a working visa.
As regards getting a sponsored visa from Mt Hutt, the New Zealand Government has quite strict rules in place as regards immigration and visa sponsorship. NZSki has, in previous years, only been able to sponsor about 8% of its staff, so your chances of getting a job are much higher if you can get yourself a working visa.
The roles that may be considered for sponsorship are the more highly skilled roles and you will need the appropriate qualifications and experience to be eligible.
Australian citizens are legally entitled to work in New Zealand and do not need a working visa of any sort.
Photo: Kids snowsports school
New Zealanders and Australians require a minimum of SBINZ Level One or equivalent to be considered for employment.
For foreign applicants, NZSki cannot sponsor you for a visa if you have no SnowSports industry qualifications or experience. To be considered you will need to have a minimum of NZSIA / SBINZ / PSIA level 2 or equivalent with 3 seasons teaching experience. In all cases, whether it be a working holiday or sponsorship visa, you must supply evidence of your work visa before you can commence employment. It is best if you can upload this into your application as soon as you get it.
In addition to free departmental training, you will also have access to the NZSKi-U internal training programs to help you develop your professional and personal skills.
No staff accommodation is provided. Most staff live in Methven. Springfield is only really practical if you have a car as there is no staff transportation.
You can expect to pay around $100-200NZD/wk for accommodation in town. Most accommodation is advertised through private landlords so many staff stay in a backpacker hostel to begin with to get a feel for what is around.
While you're looking for a place to live, the following backpackers will offer Mt Hutt staff a discount:
The information boards outside the two local supermarkets might also have listings for accommodation.
A car is always handy because of the fact you will be able to travel to other hills and into Christchurch easily. But hitching is common and you can get through a season through this means of transport alone.
For days off, Christchurch offers an even larger town with a club and bar nightlife. Some of the bars to try include:
September 21 is Peak to Pub. You have to ride from the top of the hill to the local pub in town.
Bunjy jumping is very popular around the Christchurch area. Try it out if you get the chance while you work your season at Mt Hutt.