Rainbow Ski Area is scheduled to open on July 7, and plans are afoot to turn it into the “best small ski field in the country”.
A quiet revolution has begun at the Nelson Lakes-based snow sports amenity, which has been in operation since the early 1980s.
After years of being administered solely by a very-able volunteer committee, the new-look Rainbow Sports Club has a fresh approach, led by a newly-appointed fulltime general manager and new-look operations team.
“Rainbow has been run by a management committee for the last decade and they have done an amazing job. I don’t think people understand how much work and passion that committee has put in to have Rainbow open every season.”
“But they have decided to take a step back and go into a governance board environment and employ a general manager,” says Lesley McIntosh, Sport Tasman Manager Community Sport.
That person is 58-year-old James Lazor, a former alpine director for Snow Sports NZ, who joined the Rainbow set-up in mid-February.
James immigrated to New Zealand nearly 12 years ago, has also directed ski operations in Ontario, Canada and Vermont, USA.
Andrew Smith, acting chairman of the Rainbow Sports Club, says the club has several strategic goals, including becoming the top winter attraction in the Nelson-Marlborough region.
“A big part will be to make the field easily accessible. It’s crucial we do a good job on our road and that we do the best job we possibly can on the snow surfaces, whether natural or man-made. Those are the big things on my plate … plus customer service and reminding people in the Nelson/Marlborough region that we are only 90 minutes away,” says Andrew.
The skifield has had its share of challenges in the past. After its establishment in the early 1980s it became a thriving club field by the mid-1990s.
However, after some lean seasons, the field was closed and the slopes were stripped, only two handle lifts remaining.
Then a committee was formed to save the ski area and, with various help, Rainbow was re-opened on July 17, 2004.
Fourteen seasons later, it is poised to move to another level.

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