Fresh snow boosts NZ Spring skiing
06 Oct 2009
Unseasonable snowfalls, causing havoc in New Zealand’s central North Island, at least have a silver lining for winter sports enthusiasts who’re keen to make the most of spring skiing and snowboarding.
Snow has blanketed the central North Island closing roads, stranding travellers, cutting power and interrupting communications.
But while many are counting the cost and bemoaning the inconvenience others are rubbing their hands in glee at the resulting conditions and promise of perfect Spring skiing.
Central North Island
Up to 20 cm of new snow has been reported on the Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas of Mount Ruapehu in the Central Plateau. Both fields are scheduled to end their season on 26 October.
With traditionally the longest ski season, Mt Ruapehu offers some of the best spring skiing in New Zealand, with facilities for people of all abilities - from good learner’s slopes to terrain parks for snowboarders and freeskiers.
While Whakapapa and Turoa skifield operators are waiting for the blizzards to stop and the weather to clear before opening, they say keen skiers and snowboarders can look forward to riding a nice collection of fresh powder.
In the South Island, Mt Hutt ski area in Canterbury is open again after 7cm of new snow fell on Sunday (4 Oct). The ski area reports an upper mountain base of 153 cm, with 123cm on the lower mountain.
Operators say the longer, sunny days of Spring mean that sun-block and glasses are mandatory requirements for any slope action. Mt Hutt is scheduled to close on 18th October.
Further south The Remarkables ski area, near Queenstown is on track for closing on Sunday 11th October. The area’s sister skifield, Coronet Peak, has already closed.
James Coddington, CEO for NZSki Ltd (owner of The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt) said: "we’re on track now for our scheduled closing dates, weather and conditions permitting and are celebrating spring both on and off the slopes as the weather warms up."
While the unseasonable weather may have provided enough snow to extend the ski season in some areas, ski fields have already reported a bumper winter and early spring and say the season has been one of the best on record.
In the Wanaka region all four ski areas - Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone, Snow Park NZ and Snow Farm - have brought their 2009 season to an end reporting excellent visitor numbers, great snow conditions throughout and many world-class events.
Lake Wanaka Tourism general manager James Helmore says he’s thrilled with the success. "The mountains and down town have been buzzing with visitors, from the elite professionals to the recreational skiers and riders enjoying the diverse terrain and snow sports on offer. Good visitor numbers have been reported, particularly from across the Tasman," he said.
New Zealand ski resorts are well known for their long ski season and this year is no exception. Mt Hutt was the first ski area to open in Australasia on 30th May and it is expected Mt Ruapehu will be the last to close on 26th October.
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