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Ski fields get first snow with more on the way

Jun 10, 2022

Snow has arrived at just the right time for skifields and with more forecast over the weekend, there's also excitement in the air.

Ōhau Snow Fields posted photos on social media yesterday morning showing 38 centimetres of snow had fallen in the area, and reported it was still falling.

At Coronet Peak, near Queenstown, there was 10 centimetres of snow at the base of the mountain yesterday morning and even more at the top.

MetService lead meteorologist Karl Loots said there was more on its way.

"With this wintry pattern we're going into for the rest of the week we are expecting significant alpine snowfall for all the southern skifields up until Monday. There's a series of fronts bringing periods of heavy snow to these areas," he said.

"It's the perfect timing for all of them to get their first bout of really heavy snow. It's not going to be one event... Sunday morning to Sunday afternoon is the main event for the heaviest snow and it's going to be the lowest level as well."

Snow was forecast to fall to about 600 metres above sea level in the central South Island and to about 200 metres further south.

It was expected to fall to about 300 metres above sea level in Queenstown and there was a chance of snow in the township on Sunday morning.

NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson said that was music to his ears, and the perfect start to winter - especially with trans-Tasman cousins inbound and the borders fully reopening at the end of next month.

"If there's snow to lake levels the pictures are just picture-perfect. It really switches on that Australian market and I think they'll be excited to see the photos of our mountains."

Mt Hutt Ski Area was meant to open today but that had been pushed back due to a lack of early season snow. All other opening dates were going ahead as planned, Anderson said.

"There has been a change in Canterbury at Mt Hutt, we were due to open this Friday, however, there just wasn't enough snow and there's a very significant storm in progress at the moment so we decided to push that back until probably the middle of next week. We'll make a decision next Tuesday as to when we open Mt Hutt.

"Down in Queenstown, Coronet Peak is due to open next Friday and The Remarkables a day later. And there's snow falling on those mountains right now so we're very confident to make those dates."

The other issue causing consternation in Queenstown Lakes was the ongoing labour shortage, but Anderson said they had filled all their roles and were ready for the season.

Though inevitably there would be a few roles open up for anyone keen to move south for the ski season.

The forthcoming season was bringing optimism to the area, he said.

"I'm quietly confident of the season. We'd originally planned on a domestic only season, but with the borders opening up recently that really means we can increase our recruitment and for us it's really doing our bit for the town to bring as many people in as we can to fill the hotels, fill the bars and fill the restaurants and get people spending their money."

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