Awakino, Ohau expecting bumper ski season

Preparations for the ski season are well advanced at the volunteer-run Awakino Skifield, near Kurow. New equipment is already in place, as is a decent covering of snow.

Waitaki Ski Club secretary David Campbell said he was expecting skiing to start in early to mid-July.

"We have a good base forming and we are all ready to go.

"We have 30cm to 100cm of snow on the hill. It is shaping up very well - certainly we are well ahead of last year."

Improvements had been made to the field this year, which included a reshaped and re-gravelled access road and a new ski-tow, Mr Campbell said.

After a large amount of interest last year, ski patrol training and avalanche safety training programmes would both be conducted again, he said.

Ski patrol training would begin during the July school holidays, and avalanche safety training would take place in spring, Mr Campbell said.

The organisers were also contemplating resurrecting the Waitaki Ski Club championships, he said.

A bumper season is also promised at Ohau Snow Fields.

General manager Mike Neilson said the field would open on schedule on Saturday.

"We are in good shape. We have got a cover of 30cm to 50cm of snow on our trails and learner slopes, through natural and our own snow-making system, and we just had another fall on Monday night of 12cm."

Since a snow-making machine had been installed in 2008, it had produced "brilliant" results, Mr Neilson said.

The skifield has 24 snow-making guns operating this year.

Once again, the Ohau Snow Fields would employ 50 staff this year, including 12 overseas instructors, but Mr Neilson said he was hoping for a busier season this year.

"We feel that the [Rugby] World Cup had a negative impact on our business last season, so without that at least we should see increased numbers.

"They put the school holidays back two weeks, so we closed earlier and started later in terms of our big numbers. It had a significant impact, I believe."


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