Desperate ski industry workers are relying on food parcels and emergency money from Work and Income because of the late start to winter.
More than 1000 workers throughout New Zealand are waiting for the first snowfall, which should have arrived in Queenstown three weeks ago.
One ski company has been forced to hand out hundreds of food parcels to help staff cope.
NZSKI chief executive James Coddington says staff are his No. 1 priority and the company has been cooking a free daily lunch for workers and giving out food parcels. Many of his staff have signed up for a Work and Income emergency grant.
But Mr Coddington says forward bookings for the ski fields are looking steady, with few cancellations so far.
Other areas are struggling too, with Wanaka and Canterbury fields unable to open due to the mild conditions, and North Island ski areas postponing their opening dates.
No snow is forecast until the weekend, and that will fall mainly on North Island mountains.
Bumper season across Tasman
Australian ski resorts are enjoying a bumper season.
In New South Wales, 50 centimetres of snow has fallen at the Thredbo and Perisher fields in the Snowy Mountains since Tuesday morning.
Ski fields say Australians who usually go to New Zealand are staying put.
A spokesperson for the Thredbo ski resort, Susie Diver, says Australian ski fields have sympathy for New Zealand workers but they are staffed to capacity and can't take any extras on.