Queenstown fields first – now Treble Cone too

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Wanaka’s Treble Cone skifield opens its 2011 season tomorrow (Sunday) following this week’s long-awaited snowfalls. 

Only the platter lift and beginners’ areas will open to start with, however. 

Snow had fallen on bare terrain so a further 24 hours’ snowmaking or natural snowfall was required before the home basin could open. 

The learners’ lift will be free of charge tomorrow, and the first skiers and riders will be greeted with celebratory Amisfield bubbles. 

“We’re delighted that the season is finally underway, albeit on a limited basis,” marketing manager Nigel Kerr says. 

“Our hard-working staff are doing everything possible to ensure we can fully open our doors for business shortly.” 

Treble Cone had delayed its scheduled June 22 opening due to lack of snow and unseasonably warm temperatures. 

Snow fans in Queenstown queue up

NZSki has battled queues downtown and uphill as the first big snow dump of the season is taking hold.

Skiers and boarders lined up for about an hour this morning (Friday) at the downtown Station Building to catch a ride on bus transport up to Coronet Peak and The Remarkables
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One queue extended about 30 metres along Duke Street to Locations while another spilled from the Station Building out to Camp St.

NZSki boss James Coddington says the delays for buses coming to town for pick-ups were caused by a logjam of cars heading up the slopes – with several getting stuck in the snow.

Buses having to fit chains to go up the roads add on 50 per cent to the journey time.
“It adds another 40 minutes on the road up to Coronet and another 45-50 minutes on the run to Remarkables,” Coddington says.

He adds: “When there are dodgy conditions on the road, unfortunately the biggest issue relates to other people not adhering to chain restrictions and trying to go up without chains or insufficient chains. They clog up the roads so nobody can come up or go down.”

NZSki staff have had to help pull out about 20 vehicles who became stuck over the last two days.

“It’s immensely frustrating for everyone, not just for transport operators, but also for the other customers trying to get up in their own cars,” Coddington says.

“It happens year after year and it certainly happens more when we’ve had the first snow, which is now, and it happens with inexperienced drivers thinking they can get to the top without having to fit chains.”

As for the customers held up in the morning, Coddington says his staff kept people informed as they waited in line.

Aussie student Joel Pilgrim, on a nine-day Queenstown ski trip with 25 fellow members of the Newcastle University Ski Club, says he and his mates were getting frustrated with the delay this morning.

“But it will be worth the wait.”