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Mt Hutt power outage prompts chairlift evacuation

Emma Turton
Mt Hutt chairlift evacuation
A skier is lowered from the chairlift by 'static line evacuation' at Mt Hutt Skifield.  Supplied

When the power went out yesterday, ski field workers had to get people down from the chairlifts.

Mt Hutt ski field had a power outage that forced an evacuation from the chairlifts.

The ski field lost power at about 11.15am Sunday for two hours. The power cut stopped all operations.

Mt Hutt area manager James McKenzie said there were 2000 people at the skifield at the time of the power outage and 180 using the chairlift when it stopped. 

"We managed to get half of the [chairlift] line clear in 40 minutes, then the power came back on and the rest of the people got dropped off at the top."

The main chairlift that stopped was the 'summit six' chair-lift, which some people were lowered down from by 'static line evacuation' using ropes.

McKenzie said power outages happened every four or five years. "This one had been quite a long one." Outages usually lasted about 10 minutes. 

Almost all of the chairlifts stopped working and could not go forwards or backwards, except for the quad chairlift that ran on a backup diesel motor.

Brendon Quinn, network manager at EA Networks said the transformer at the bottom of the hill, which fed power up to the ski field, had an electrical issue "and so it turned itself off".

EA networks restored limited power at 12.45pm.

The ski field was open for an extra hour on Sunday to compensate for the time lost when the chairlifts were out of action.