Strict measures to avoid parking woes

Queenstown's snow enthusiasts will be encouraged to car-pool and pick up hitch-hikers on the way to Coronet Peak this winter in an effort to ease pressure on the skifield's increasingly crowded parking facilities.

Dedicated hitchhiking areas will be established on the outskirts of Queenstown and at the bottom of the skifield's access road, to encourage motorists heading up the mountain alone to share their rides with fellow skiers and snowboarders.

Coronet Peak ski area manager Hamish McCrostie said motorists driving alone would be forced to park in car park five - the furthest away from the mountain's base building - and catch a shuttle from their car to the slopes.

The crackdown on solo motorists heading up the mountain would be enforced after 8.30am each morning, meaning early-bird locals who traditionally hit the slopes for a run before the crowds arrived would not be penalised, Mr McCrostie said.

Dedicated car-pooling areas would also be established at the base of Coronet Peak and at Arthurs Point, and a service linking drivers with potential passengers would be available on the company's website, he said.

The new measures, announced yesterday, were needed to ensure there was no repeat of last winter when there was a shortage of parks on several occasions, he said.

The skifield's $30 million redevelopment, including a new base building and snow-making facilities, was expected to allow the field to accommodate upwards of 6000 visitors a day during peak periods.

Mr McCrostie said while there were no plans to increase the number of car parks available at the top of the mountain, such a move could not be ruled out in the future.

The initiatives would also be good for the environment and help snow enthusiasts save money, particularly given the high cost of filling vehicles with petrol, he said.

The locations for the two hitchhiking areas were expected to be finalised once discussions with the Queenstown Lakes District Council were completed, Mr McCrostie said.

Coronet Peak, which received 10cm of snow during the weekend, was scheduled to open on June 7.

The new traffic management system would be launched in time for this year's Winter Festival, which starts on June 27.

Queenstown's other skifield, the Remarkables, is scheduled to open on June 21. The skifield received 20cm of snow during the weekend.

In the Wanaka area, up to 20cm of snow fell in the mountain ranges on Friday and Saturday. The weather has since cleared and frosts of down to -8degC were expected this morning.

Another 1cm of snow has been forecast for the Wanaka skifields tomorrow. Snow conditions at Wanaka's four skifields were not available yesterday.

The Snow Park opens June 13. Cardrona Alpine Resort opens June 22. Treble Cone opens June 30. The Snow Farm (Nordic skiing) opens June 21 or as soon as there is enough snow to groom.


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