Early season snow welcomed by snowsports fans

A snowboarder enjoys the new snow on the slopes of Coronet Peak skifield. PHOTO: NZSKI
A snowboarder enjoys the new snow on the slopes of Coronet Peak skifield. PHOTO: NZSKI
Queenstown's skifields have been blessed by a top-up of fresh natural snow in recent days, and there is more in store to keep snowsports enthusiasts happy.

Snow-lovers rushed to the mountains to enjoy the fresh powder on the slopes yesterday morning.

Coronet Peak received another 15cm of snow ready for the early arrivals, taking the base to between 40cm and 80cm.

Ski area manager Nigel Kerr said: ``The new snow is awesome timing. We are very happy to be out in the cold weather.

``A lot of fresh snow came through overnight on Sunday and we are really happy with the road crew.

``They have managed to get the roads in pretty good condition.

``New snow is great and the cold temperatures are really allowing us to thicken up the base.

``We will start to get milder temperatures, so this is our opportunity to get the mountain looking pristine.''

He said the snow-making team had been working hard to capitalise on the snowfall, adding an extra 10cm or so to the base.

The Remarkables had another 5cm of snow ready for the early morning rush of visitors yesterday, adding to the 15cm which fell on Sunday.

Snow at the base was between 65cm and 90cm, and all lifts were open for the day.

The snow caused disruption on the roads in the area during the morning, forcing the closure of the Crown Range Rd between Queenstown and Wanaka.

The road reopened at noon and drivers were told to fit snow-chains where indicated.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council warned drivers about black ice across the roading network yesterday morning after heavy rainfall on Sunday and freezing temperatures created ``hazardous conditions''.

Roads affected by black ice included Malaghans Rd, Glenorchy Rd, Fernhill Rd and streets around Arthur's Point and Kelvin Heights.

Some schools had to start an hour later due to the poor conditions, including Remarkables Primary School, Arrowtown School and Wakatipu High School.

The white stuff was even seen on Deer Park Heights in front of the Remarkables mountain range.

Snow also fell over the hill at both Cardrona and Treble Cone skifields.

After opening on Saturday, Treble Cone received a further 30cm of fresh snow from Sunday through to yesterday morning.

Likewise, 15cm fell at Cardrona, adding to a solid early season base.

After a partly cloudy day yesterday, and patches of rain and a few snow showers forecast overnight, the MetService predicted more snow showers in Queenstown this morning.

Cloudy periods are forecast for the rest of the day before calmer winds and sunnier conditions return tomorrow.

Temperatures are expected to reach 7degC today, dropping to about 1degC overnight.



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