Snowmaking guns at the ready

Coronet Peak. Photo: ODT files
Coronet Peak. Photo: ODT files
Otago's skifields are gearing up to make some snow as the natural stuff is forecast to fall later this week.

The Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence said incoming cold weather could mean 10cm-20cm of snow on the mountain, "which is very welcome at this time of year".

Coronet Peak ski area manager Nigel Kerr said if temperatures allowed, the team there would be firing up the snowmaking guns and getting stuck in to crew training for both Coronet Peak and the Remarkables staff.

On Monday, crew moved about 20 snowmaking guns around the hill by helicopter, and Mr Kerr said they hoped this weekend would be a good opportunity to work out some kinks and check how that gun arrangement would work.

However, with the ski season still a month away, they would not be going overboard, Mr Kerr said.

"Putting snow on the ground isn’t a bad thing, it helps cool grounds down, it helps prepare for the next snowfall.

"Normally, what we do is fire up Coronet first, [as] it’s got the biggest system - it needs more of a shakedown - get that rolling, and then as temperatures drop, we would turn on Remarkables."

Mr Lawrence said while crew were training at Coronet, The Remarkables would not be snowmaking this weekend, but he anticipated once crew were back on the mountain from midweek next week the snowmaking would begin soon after.

Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone experience general manager Laura Hedley said it was time to "start doing snow dances".

Both skifields had been improving their snowmaking facilities ahead of the ski season.

"Treble Cone’s new pump shed has arrived and is being installed, while Cardrona has built a new reservoir which increases our snowmaking water capacity by 50%," Ms Hedley said.

"Both mountains will start making snow as soon as [temperatures] allow to build on any natural snow that falls."

Opening dates are scheduled for June 11 for Cardrona, and June 25 for Treble Cone.

The MetService has forecast possible snow down to 600m at the weekend.

By Cass Marrett and Aspen Bruce

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