Skiers and snowboarders have been treated to a bluebird opening day up Queenstown’s Coronet Peak skifield.
The mountain opened this morning with a 35cm average snow base. That was thanks to natural snow dumps of 20cm in the build-up, which was almost doubled by ski field operator NZSki’s impressive snow-making artillery.
Coronet Peak ski area manager Hamish McCrostie says a further 5cm of snow fell at about 4am.
About 200 hardy skiers and boarders were raring to go at the 9am kick-off on the Coronet Express Quad chairlift, some arriving at 4.30am in the middle of the snowstorm.
The crowd grew to more than 1000 throughout the day.
An ecstatic McCrostie says it’s a great day for Coronet, Queenstown and New Zealand tourism.
“It’s a huge shot in the arm for everyone. There’s a lot of people up there having a lot of fun, releasing that pent-up desire to get in their first runs of the season.
“Conditions are fantastic and people are just blown away with what we’ve been able to provide, reaping the rewards of the largest, fully-automated high tech snowmaking system in the Southern Hemisphere.
“The snow-making guns are still running today and will continue to run whenever temperatures allow,” he says.
NZSki’s Canterbury ski field Mt Hutt also opened on the same day, with NZSki chief executive James Coddington,
saying it’s a proud moment to see a huge team effort pay off with the duel opening on time.
“It’s the culmination of a huge effort between two mountains, and 14 departments on each mountain, to officially open together.
“It’s the first time we’ve actually planned a joint opening and everybody’s given 100 per cent to come together to achieve everything according to plan, even though it’s stretched our resources to the limit.
“Mt Hutt has been blessed with the snow, and Coronet Peak has been blessed with the cold temperatures,” Coddington adds.
NZSki’s Queenstown sister ski field The Remarkables is due to open next week on Saturday, June 16.