Famine turns to `feast' as snow blankets area's skifields

Snow, freezing temperatures and dangerous roads marked Wanaka's weekend.

With at least 30cm of new snow on Saturday night, Treble Cone Ski Area yesterday postponed its season opening day and instead activated its avalanche control team.

Temperatures ranged between -4degC and -9degC on Wanaka skifields yesterday.

Cardrona and the Snow Farm did not open for the day because of the conditions but the Snow Park had a limited opening.

Road conditions were challenging, although Wanaka police did not have any accidents to report when contacted yesterday.

Downer EDI Works crews snow ploughed all Saturday night and again all day yesterday before opening the Crown Range at 1pm.

The snow and ice-covered Haast and Lindis Passes were closed on Saturday night and yesterday morning.

Chains were essential on all mountain passes and skifield access roads.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is advising the travelling public to always have snow chains in the car boot.

Treble Cone marketing manager Nigel Kerr said yesterday things had gone from "famine to feast" in very short order. Last week the ski area was bare ground and tussock but now it had 65cm of snow and another 20cm to 30cm was expected by this morning.

Mr Kerr said the timing of the skifield's long-awaited season opening was uncertain because of the forecast high winds and snow storm last night.

Treble Cone's online snow report should be updated by 7.30am and there would also be live radio reports before 7am.

"I prefer the feast because at least we have got the raw ingredient on the ground . . . It is a typical westerly, but we haven't had many of those lately, and its good to get one to kick the season off," Mr Kerr said.

Treble Cone has postponed its planned ice-carving competition until July 19.



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