Skifields welcome first big snowfall of the season

Yesterday produced the first major snowfall of the season for skifields in Queenstown and Wānaka.

A cool weather front brought heavy rain to the Queenstown Lakes district and heavy snow settled above 800m from Sunday night through to yesterday evening.

In Queenstown, both The Remarkables Ski Area and Coronet Peak were open yesterday, snow falling continually throughout the day.

Coronet Peak ski area manager Nigel Kerr said by yesterday morning, there was a base of 15cm at the top of the mountain, and about 5cm-10cm at the bottom.

The snow had set up the upcoming school holidays "rather nicely", Mr Kerr said.

The Remarkables Ski Area reported 20cm of snow at its base, and 30cm at the top.

Remarkables ski area manager Steve Hall said the snow that had fallen was dense, "so it is literally perfect".

"After this weather front passes, we will be left with cold air temperatures, which will be perfect for snowmaking."

The snowfalls meant The Remarkables was hoping to open its new Shadow Basin lift to the public later this week.

Conditions at Wānaka skifields were similar — skiers enjoyed 25cm of fresh snow at Cardrona yesterday.

Christchurch visitor Jaime Uy De Baron got his skis out for a run on the fresh snow at the Crown...
Christchurch visitor Jaime Uy De Baron got his skis out for a run on the fresh snow at the Crown Range Lookout yesterday. PHOTO: RHYVA VAN ONSELEN
Meanwhile, Treble Cone was closed to the public yesterday due to adverse conditions after receiving 30cm of fresh snow.

Area manager of both Treble Cone and Cardrona Laura Hedly said the snowfall was a game-changer for their fields.

"Both Cardrona and Treble Cone will be looking to open more terrain off the back of this week’s storm, and we’re hyped to have a solid base to build the rest of the season from."

After receiving a dump of 50cm-70cm of snow, Wānaka’s Snow Farm was also closed yesterday

Snow Farm general manager Sam Lee said yesterday’s conditions "were like being trapped in a snow globe all day".

"It is the best start to the season I have seen in years. It is exactly what the industry needs."

A spokesperson for MetService said the rest of the week did not hold much promise for more snow

"On the plus side, temperatures this week look to be on the chilly side, which should hopefully help what snow there is remain as long as possible."

A heavy snow watch was in place on the Crown Range road and Lindis Pass yesterday, as snow settled in areas above 600m. The Lindis Pass was closed about lunchtime.

Light snow was expected to continue falling until early this morning, with 1cm-2cm expected on both roads.