Wanaka’s Snow Farm hopes to help more people enjoy cross-country skiing, through working to develop a skills pathway for cross-country ski instructors.

Ski instructor Eric Schusser said that over the years, the Snow Farm had employed a large proportion of overseas instructors, but the high turnover made it hard to get consistency from year to year.

“And then with Covid, everybody was caught out without the instructors they needed,” he said.

“That prompted a bit more of a push to develop a skills progression for local instructors.”

This year, a team from Snow Farm, including Mr Schusser and co-founder and manager Mary Lee, worked with Skills Active to launch the level 4 New Zealand certificate in introductory snow school instruction cross-country ski strand, and the level 5 intermediate strand.

The instructors, both employed and volunteers, were the first in the country to go through the level 4 strand and some of the graduates plan to complete the level 5 programme next year.

Mr Schusser is assessor for the newly launched programmes, having also helped to develop the technical requirements.

He said cross-country skiing needed a consistent teaching system suited to the New Zealand environment, and the new qualifications were designed to mentor and coach instructors through a sequential process.

Mrs Lee, who with her husband John started the Cardrona ski field, now Cardrona Alpine Resort, and the Snow Farm, was the one of the first graduates of the course.

Mr Schusser said the course was a professional approach to creating good ski instructors with some experience.

“At the end you get a consistent lesson delivered, but with room for each individual instructor’s personal approach.”