Not waiting for the snow gods

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If Mother Nature doesn’t play ball, NZSki will take matters into its own hands.

The Remarkables, one of Queenstown’s two skifields, opens on Saturday despite a dearth of natural snow.

Boss Ross Lawrence is working on it.

Speaking to Mountain Scene on Tuesday afternoon, he was confident both the learner area and Curvey Basin would be open.

It got a dusting of the white stuff last weekend and its snowmaking team has been working furiously since.

“All we need is cold temps and some snow making. Seventy-two hours ago there was a lot of work to be done but with the cold temps we’ve had, if Mother Nature is not doing it, we will.”

Temps have dropped as low as minus eight – snow can be made at minus two.

“We are looking at a nice little front coming through on Friday [tomorrow] and into Saturday morning and if that provides 10 to 20 centimetres of snow then we are certainly looking forward to opening up more terrain. This is early season of course but we are really positive about being able to get up and running as scheduled.”

The team is also creating powder on Sugar Bowl, Castaway and Gotham City runs.

Snow guns have been running from 3pm until 10.30am each day.

“We will go 24-7 if temperatures allow,” Lawrence adds.

New to the skifield this year is a double conveyor gallery that is thought to be a New Zealand first.

Lawrence describes it as a double whammy.

Guests will be toasty travelling up the learner slope, and it means less maintenance for staff because snow is kept out of the moving parts.

Also new is a purpose-built medical facility at the bottom of the Curvey Basin lift.

More than 350 staff will work on the mountain during the winter season.

Just over half are returnees from previous seasons.

NZSki’s other Queenstown ski area, Coronet Peak, is due to open on June 17.

louises@scene.co.nz