NZAC Response to COVID-19


The following update was published by the New Zealand Alpine Club on 15 May.

The Government’s announcement that we moved to Level 2 on Thursday, 14 May, and the easing of the earlier, planned travel restrictions, means that we are now able to return to the mountains and crags we love so much – provided we follow the Play It Safe directions we have been given.

However, the impact of COVID-19 on the New Zealand Alpine Club’s financial position remains serious and even with the slowly improving forecast we envisage for the remainder of 2020, it is clear that unless we take several, urgent, averting actions our expenditure will exceed our income by $180,000 and will drain all the Club’s cash and reserves well before Christmas 2020.   Almost every aspect of our income has been affected; membership subs, Banff Film Festival, Huts, travel insurance and events all face severely reduced incomed and, in some areas, we can see no possibility that income will return to “normal” for many months, and perhaps years.

So that we can preserve the key assets of the Club, and be in a position to return events, services, operations and fundraising as soon as possible, the Board has made the following decisions to cover the period from 1 July to 30 December 2020:

  • The Board has directed the President to talk to our team about reducing staffing costs.  A formal, Staff Change proposal has been prepared and the Board is now consulting with our staff before final decisions are made.   We are sure that like every member of the Board, you will all be understanding of the impact of this decision on the small team at the Home of Climbing in Christchurch and will support and respect them through this difficult time.
  • Section levies will not be paid from the Club’s funds for the balance of 2020 and Sections who have not already done so are required to forward all surplus New Zealand Alpine Club funds to Headquarters immediately. The General Manager has already sent Section Chairs information on government funding available to them to cover any fixed, operating costs they may have; funding which is not available to NZAC National Office.
  • At Level 2, individual members and Sections will be able to restart trips and small events, provided these strictly follow the Government’s Play It Safe guidelines and more specific details which are expected in the coming days. We also plan to reopen the Club’s huts in parallel with the Department of Conservation’s reopening schedule
  • We expect that Sections will be able to organise and run a limited range of basic level instruction programmes over the coming months. These courses will comply with the agreed NZAC Pathways policies, all government COVID-19 expectations and must be completely self-funding.   Detailed requirements for such instruction programmes will be sent to Section Chairs over the coming days.   Where individual members or Sections want to undertake more advanced training, they may wish to investigate professional courses offered by commercial guides who have the necessary experience, qualifications and Department of Conservation concessions.  With the New Zealand tourism industry devastated, and NZAC having limited funding and reduced staff capacity to administer instruction programmes, this is a good time to support New Zealand’s professional guiding companies.
  • The Board has reviewed all expenditure, across the entire operation, and in addition to a direction to staff to reduce both capital and operational spending where ever possible, the following specific spending decisions have been made.
    • The Club has regretfully decided to suspend the Australian Section’s liability insurance and, until it is renewed as soon as we are able, Australian Section trips will be on hold.
    • We have also decided to reduce spending on hut insurance in New Zealand, increasing the number of huts which will no longer be insured.
    • For the remainder of 2020, the Board have decided that no publications will be printed, making significant savings in both printing and postage costs. The Climber and New Zealand Alpine Journal 2020 will be available in digital format and we are investigating options to maintain their quality to and ensure readers and advertisers continue to receive excellent value.
    • There is likely to be no external spending on preparation or printing of guidebooks for the balance of this year.
    • The Board has decided to complete one project, which needs relatively a small level of capital expenditure and will bring positive, rapid benefits to the Club – we will continue the final work on stage one of the membership management system upgrade so that we can attain improvements from what we have already spent.

These are not decisions a Board ever wants to consider or to implement, but they have been made after extensive research and careful consideration and each is necessary to give us all confidence that the New Zealand Alpine Club will still be in operation at the end of 2020.   Although many are drastic and far reaching, they do not entirely remove the financial impact of COVID-19 and, even with the actions above, we are forecasting a financial loss of $20,000 for the for the period until December 2020 and will use $35,000 of our reserves to cover cashflow requirements during that time.

While these are the main operational and financial consequences of the COVID-19 impact on the New Zealand Alpine Club, the Board does acknowledge and appreciate the seriousness of these decisions on our staff and on our members in New Zealand and Australia.   We will of course do everything we can to support the General Manager and her staff as they work through the Staff Change Proposal in the next few weeks and we will let members know what has been decided, once that is known, so we can recognise the staff members’ personal contribution to this crisis.

We will continue to do what we can to support our members as you return safely to the mountains, ski-areas and crags and we will continue to advocate on your behalf with other outdoors and sporting organisations, national bodies and government departments.

Some of you may be in a position to support us through this difficult period with a direct donation and we openly ask for your help at this time.   Every donation will help us reduce the use of our reserves and enable us to prepare the New Zealand Alpine Club for the new “normal” as quickly as possible.   A click on this link will take you to the donation page of our website  Thank you.

We are sure that many of you will have general and specific questions about these Board decisions and we ask that these be directed to the Board – not the staff or General Manager at this testing time for them.   Simply email and the Board will investigate and respond to any questions you may have.

On behalf of the New Zealand Alpine Club Board
John Palmer, Ross Cullen, Gerald Lanning, Yvonne Pfluger, Nina Sawicki, Mike Pryjma, Jim Petersen

Lindsay Smith – President