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Out with the old: The canopy of the old Sugar Bowl chairlift's bottom terminal being removed earlier this month. PICTURE: NZSKI

By GUY WILLIAMS

Skiers and boarders will no longer have to rely on Mother Nature to top up the Sugar Bowl at The Remarkables ski area.

Although the new 1.1km-long chairlift accessing the area started running last July, work began in January to put the finishing touches on the project.

Ski area manager Ross Lawrence says snow making is now being extended into the area, with 21 fan or lance guns being installed along the new 1.3km Serpentine trail, and eight lance guns along the existing Cross Fall trail.

The new chairlift’s opened up 2.5km of new trails on that side of the valley, which will have reliable snow cover for the first time ever.

Meanwhile, 1700 native trees have been planted near the bottom of the access road since October by staff, volunteers and casual workers, Lawrence says.

The trees are a mix of totara, coprosma, kowhai, beech, man uka and ti kouka.

They cover nearly a hectare of a 20ha block, owned by NZSki, through which the road zig-zags for its first 2km up to a cattle stop.

New forest: The first of 1700 native trees go in near The Remarkables ski area’s access road late last year. PICTURE: NZSKI

Fifteen mature pines were removed as part of the effort to make way for the new plantings.

‘‘We’re gradually going to reforest that whole area — at a minimum we’d like to do a hectare a year.’’

Another project under way is the replacement of nearly 2km of the ski area’s main power cable, along the access road, which will improve security of supply and provide capacity for future development.

Lawrence says the next major project at the skifield will be the replacement of the Shadow Basin chairlift, although there’s no timeframe for that as yet.

guy.williams@scene.co.nz