New Zealand may be in a recession, but the country’s ski fields have had their best year ever.

Ski Areas Association spokesman Miles Davidson said its members had sold 1,402,000 passes, 116,000 more than last year and 1000 more than the previous record in 2006.

Snow conditions had been fantastic at all areas with more snow fall than usual, he said.

Ski areas had opened in time for the July school holidays and top quality conditions continued until the season’s end in October in the South Island and mid November in the North Island, Davidson said.

Snowmaking was making a huge difference to the industry and allowed for a longer season by building up snow bases, he said.

It also provided the ability to improve snow quality throughout the season, particularly in high traffic areas.

“Providing quality conditions for skiers and riders is paramount especially at peak times such as holidays and weekends.

“Everyone is more enthusiastic and wants to participate more often when conditions are right.”

More than 40,000 season passes were sold prior to and during 2008.