Season under way at Coronet Peak

Coronet Peak heralded the start of winter in Queenstown this morning, opening the skifield on schedule with a healthy average base of about 30cm across the mountain and about 600 people there to enjoy the first runs.

Eager friends Finn Duffy, Tiarn Collins, Jacob O'Donoghue-Price and Cooper Neilson (all 14), of Queenstown, had the honour of being first on the chairlift for the 2014 season, having arrived at the ski area at 7pm on Friday night.

Finn told the ODT the friends spent the night "chilling around a fire'' and keeping their energy levels up with brownies and lasagne made for them by their mothers.

After his first run Finn gave the snow conditions a thumbs up.

"It was great to have the run to ourselves, it was hard and fast."

Coronet Peak ski area manager Ross Copland declared the ski area open just before 9am with the chairlifts firing up for the first time in the 2014 season.

"Today is all about Queenstown locals dusting off the gear and having a ski.

"We've got the best snow in the southern hemisphere at this early stage of the season thanks largely to the great investment in snowmaking and the reliability that gives us.

"It's great for Queenstown to get the season underway, and looking ahead we're excited about Winter Festival and the re-launch of night skiing with doubling of the terrain.

"Overall we've got some really promising signs for the season to come."