Eyes on skies as ski season set to go

Coronet Peak assistant ski area manager Christine Law and manager Nigel Kerr — holding the field...
Coronet Peak assistant ski area manager Christine Law and manager Nigel Kerr — holding the field’s unofficial mascot, Oscar — cheerfully wait for snow on the hill yesterday. PHOTO: NZSKI
It is time to start the snow dances.

Both Queenstown skifields, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, are scheduled to open this Saturday and while they’ve had, quite literally, guns blazing on both hills this week to get a base going, what opens, and when, depends on what falls tonight.

NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson said a front was due this afternoon which could deliver snow.

As if on cue, Cardrona Alpine Resort late this morning posted a video online of snow falling at the skifield.

A light dusting earlier this week, while not too helpful in terms of volume, had lowered temperatures sufficiently to properly fire up the snowguns, Anderson said.

"This one that’s coming in is a bit juicier. It looks like it’s got a bit of precip in it, and it’s just whether it falls as rain or snow.

"But given it’s been nice and cold, we’re hopeful that it is going to fall as snow and that should set us up pretty well."

Mr Anderson said NZSki would not decide what opened on Saturday until tomorrow.

"We really want to get open because it sends a clear signal and it’s great for the town if we can get going on time, so we’re just pulling out all the stops to make sure we can."

Cardrona and Treble Cone Experiences general manager Laura Hedley told RNZ June was always a bit unpredictable.

"Sometimes we get a really early June storm and it sets us up really well. Other times, it's a slower start and we really rely on making snow. But we're prepared for that," she said.

Both fields were getting good bookings through, but she said they were managing daily numbers at Cardrona to ensure it didn't feel crowded.

Cardrona is also looking to open this weekend, while Treble Cone is aiming for June 29.

MetService has forecast snow to 1600 metres, lowering to 800 metres in the south at night in the Southern Lakes region.