Skiers enjoy late snowfall

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For Queenstown alpine enthusiast Chris Prudden, it doesn’t get any better than this.

This being a cold snap covering the Wakatipu Basin’s mountains in some of the best powder he’s seen all season.

No worries that the ski season officially ended weeks ago and the lifts are no longer running.

That’s no bother for Prudden, the volunteer leader for the local Alpine Cliff Rescue team, and the 100 or so others he estimates who were also up the Remarkables having a snow ball on Monday. 

“It was one of the biggest snowfalls and the best skiing in the whole season. The Remarkables was packed – you couldn’t get up the road. There were vehicles for miles.”

Prudden says it wasn’t a tough choice to head up and trek around searching for the best spots: “That’s all I do, I put the skins on the skis and off I go. Once you learn to ski, after that you’re out there looking for the new terrain and fresh snow, the untouched stuff.

“It was crazy up there. It’s really interesting how it’s grown in the last 10 years. I used to think it was a busy day if I saw six people in the back country. Now I see 20 or 30. 

“It’s becoming more popular. It’s probably some of the easiest back-country terrain to access on foot in New Zealand.”

Prudden says guys were up there on skidoos riding around, others left their cars in the middle of the road not thinking others would be heading up.

“There was a bit of carnage,” he laughs.

“But the snow conditions were amazing.”

And it stayed like that all day. 

Prudden says: “Normally at this time of the year new snow like that would just deteriorate so quickly with the heat but it was cool enough, there was the southerly breeze, the snow was amazing.

“We were still on our second run from the shoulder of Remarkables, at the high point, and the snow was still in perfect condition at 3pm which is highly unusual.

“So we did get something out of all those crappy, cloudy days. Everybody had big smiles and there was a phenomenal amount of people.”