Chilly night pays off for lift's first customer

A hip flask of whisky, a freezing night and 15 hours later Brad Markey was the first to hit the new lift at the Remarkables yesterday.

Ex-pat Australian-turned-Queenstowner, Markey arrived at the Remarkables car park at 6pm on Wednesday prepped to spend the night in his trusty stationwagon but he didn't quite bargain on temperatures plunging to a bone-chilling minus 8 degrees Celsius.

"It was a freezing cold, long, long night, but I think the hip flask of whisky I brought got me through it," he said.

"But the Remarks have become home for me, and ever since I heard there was gonna be a new chair [lift] put in, I wanted to be the first one on it."

The two-year wait was well worth it as he got on the new Curvey Basin chairlift.

"I want to get through my runs in one piece, get a coffee and at some stage have a good sleep in my own bed - the non-stationwagon one," he said.

Zac Thomas and Morgan Harteveld were comparative latecomers, but still managed to beat the rush for the 9am lift opening.

"He wanted to get here at 4am, and I was gunning for 6am, so we split the difference and got here at 5," Harteveld said.

Harteveld was part of the lift installation crew who worked through the summer on the project, and was keen to ski the final result.

"I already know there's a whole lot of new terrain that's been totally opened up by the Curvey, and I was determined to be on that first lift and be in the first bunch to cut new tracks."

"It's fantastic, and a really nice long run - well worth the wait, and I'd totally spend the night in the car again if I had to," Markey said at the bottom.

NZSki chief executive officer Paul Anderson, who was shovelling snow at the chairlift at first light, revealed some cost breakdown's of the Remarkables $400 million spend.

A new base building, to open next winter, will cost $20m, while fully sealing the access road, earthworks and building the new lift took a further $20m.

"We can't reveal the exact spend on the lift because of a commercial agreement with the lift company, Leitner-Poma," he said.

The Southland Times