It’s snow time

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Staff at The Remarkables skifield have pulled out all the stops to open two days ahead of schedule this morning.

The skifield is now open thanks to heavy snowfall leading up to the start of the ski season.

The snow-making team has been busy packing down the white stuff in cold temperatures over recent weeks. Yesterday, as Mountain Scene went to press, the base was about 70-95cm.

Ski area boss Ross Lawrence says: “With the turnout that Coronet and Cardrona had on the weekend we are looking forward to good numbers.

“Snow-making has continued for the last 10 days or so and we have great conditions.

“It’s really good off piste but people need to err on the side of caution.”

Lawrence says the great snow cover should allow the skifield to be fully operational today.

Lifts will include the three conveyors, Alta, Curvey Basin, Sugar Bowl and Shadow Basin, he says.

The season often starts with just the learner slopes and Curvey opening, with Shadow and Sugar relying on heavier snow.

A number of improvements have been made to the skifield’s facilities ready for it to open to the public. Around a quarter of the rental and performance stock at the resort has been replaced, alterations have been made to the restaurants and kitchens to meet demand, and a new grit truck has been bought.

On the slopes, three more snow guns are operational, and features are being added to the Sugar Bowl terrain park. Plans to extend the covered learner conveyor belt in the park are on hold though, due to heavy snow stopping vehicles transporting building materials up the mountain.

“We will be very pleased when we can do that after this season.”

The skifield is the first in the South Island to open fully for this year’s winter season, although Coronet Peak opened for one day last Saturday and Cardrona opened all weekend. They’re due to open June 16.

Almost half a million people visited The Remarkables and Coronet Peak last year.

joshua.walton@scene.co.nz