Snow Park NZ closed to public for good

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Deep snow created epic early season conditions at the region’s skifields – but it won’t help a mothballed snow park.

The new owner of Snow Park NZ near Wanaka has confirmed it will remain closed to the public permanently.

The terrain park – the world’s first dedicated freestyle facility – was bought by neighbouring vehicle and car testing business Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds earlier this month.

“We won’t open to the public next winter,” its managing director Tom Elworthy says.

“I think that’s it – we’ll be closed permanently to the public now.”

Elworthy says the company still planned to cater to international ski and snowboard teams and individuals.

“Short summary is we only got a modest amount of interest really, there isn’t the demand. So we’ve pretty much decided we won’t be building a pipe and park this year at all.

“We may cater for some race teams, slalom and GS teams, with race lanes in late August this year or future years.”

Instead the facility will be used for ice driving experiences for European car manufacturers’ New Zealand dealerships and conference and incentive groups.

Snow Park NZ was opened by the Lee family in 2002 and run as a boutique mountain resort and training facility for international skiers and snowboarders. But it has struggled in recent years.

Meanwhile, other skifield operators were celebrating their best opening weekends in living memory.

The Remarkables ski area, operated by NZSki, had more than a metre of snow on its upper slopes on Saturday and 75 centimetres at the base building, which 1500 eager skiers and snowboarders got up to enjoy.

“For the first time in a few years, we’ve got Homeward Run, the terrain park and TRIC Big Park features open and operating all from day one, so no surprise then that we’ve got lots of happy people up here,” ski area manager Ross Lawrence says.

“The season’s shaping up to be awesome. Bring it on.”

Lawrence says thanks to the recent cold snap the conditions were “simply epic”.

“To be frank it’s not often that we have such amazing snow and the coverage we’ve got from Day One. I’m hearing lots of ‘yahoos’ as people get their first runs in and there’s plenty of smiles, plenty of good times,” Lawrence says.

The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival’s Quiksilver Slopestyle Invitational is up The Remarkables at its terrain park from 11am on Sunday – and includes local snowboarder Nick Hyne.