Snow fans flock to best days of season

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Skiers and snowboarders in Queenstown are enjoying some of the best days of the season – despite what Aussie marketers might be saying. 

Coronet Peak ski area manager Hamish McCrostie says Wednesday was probably the best day of 2011, closely followed by yesterday (Thursday). 

Between 3000 and 4000 punters were up the hill on Wednesday enjoying fresh powder – the first fine weather after three days of unprecedented blizzard-like conditions. 

Yesterday saw more than 4000 people took to the slopes of Coronet Peak. 

“This is one of the best days of the season – there’s snow top to bottom, side to side, wall to wall,” McCrostie says. 

“The question has been asked ‘Are we going to extend the season because of all this snow. We’ll make that call closer to the time, but if we’ve got snow and there’s lots of people because of the Rugby World Cup, then if we can – we will.” 

The epic powder days come after what some weather forecasters have called a one-in-50-year winter blast that dropped more than half a metre of new snow on Queenstown ski fields. 

The cold snap made roads treacherous and closed Queenstown Airport’s runway for two days. Just before the storm hit last weekend, Snow Australia boss Colin Hackworth was quoted in Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper that New Zealand roads are “death-defying” and flights are often interrupted. 

Australian tourist Justin Cooke, who spent yesterday afternoon skiing on Coronet Peak, says: “We haven’t had a problem. 

“We like the variety here and the longer runs. Plus it’s cheaper, bro.” 

Cooke’s mate Marc Summers: “The only downfall is you can’t stay on piste but what we’ve experienced is better snow.”