NZSki has delivered the news Queenstown has been holding its breath for – Coronet Peak Ski Area opens tomorrow (Thursday).
Temperatures finally fell sufficiently this week for Coronet Peak to use its 211 snowguns and make snow – which it has been doing continuously since Monday night.
Coronet Peak Ski area boss Hamish McCrostie says his snowmaking and grooming teams, headed by Pete Deuart and Kate Nimmo have done “an absolutely amazing job considering conditions have been less than ideal at times”.
Coronet will open a month after originally scheduled due to unseasonably warm weather and the almost complete lack of any natural snow.
It will also open with only limited terrain.
The news will a huge relief for NZSki staff who’ll now join the pay roll and for other people unable to secure employment till the season cranks up. Not to mention the entire local visitor economy.
Coronet’s opening is also timely for the Winter Festival – director Simon Green gleefully announced the news during the Drag Race this afternoon.
The festival had to cancel three Coronet Peak events during the opening weekend, but tomorrow’s iconic Dog Derby will now be able to proceed, although on a slightly different course.
The Coronet Express and Meadows Express chairlifts will open tomorrow, with just 15 to 20cm of snow on the upper mountain and 10 to 15cm further down.
Runs to open include the main M1 Trail from top to bottom, the Big Easy trail and beginners area.
“We’re well aware that our locals and visitors have been waiting for this day, so even though this isn’t what we’d usually offer on opening day, it’s a great start,” McCrostie says.
“Our traditional opening day bubbles have been on ice for quite some time, so finally welcoming skiers and boarders to the slopes deserves a bit of a celebration.
“It’s great news for Queenstown and we’d really like to thank everyone for their patience and support.”
“First on the Lift 2011” T-shirts will be handed out to the first four guests.
June 30 is Coronet Peak’s latest opening since the introduction of snowmaking 20 years ago.
Friday’s Winter Festival Coronet Concert will now be brought forward from 4pm till 1pm – it was to have coincided with the opening of night skiing but that’s been postponed.
Saturday’s Winter Festival Mountain Mayhem day on Coronet will proceed as normal.
Wanaka’s Snow Park NZ also opens tomorrow.