The start of Rainbow ski area's 10th anniversary season on Saturday was greeted with clear skies, fresh snow and a crowd of hundreds of happy skiers.
Rainbow sports club chairman Jo Rainey said weekend conditions, which arrived just in time, heralded the start of what looked set to be a good season right through until spring.
Mountain manager Jono Hay said the warm weather in June had the ski area management fearing that they would have to postpone the opening day. "The conditions were really good on Saturday. We did about 60 hours of snow-making and then also had about 3 centimetres [of natural snow] fall - I'm really pleased with the first day," he said.
Only the lower slopes containing the beginner and intermediate sections were open as there was insufficient snow cover high up the mountain. Rainey said the T-bar was set to open this morning up to tower four, which meant the Shirtfront would now also be open.
Blenheim mum Vicky Charles and her son Kieran, 11, were among the first on the mountain on Saturday.
"This is our second year coming up. It's such a great spot for beginners and families," Charles said.
A mix of first-timers and seasoned snow lovers took to the slopes, enjoying Saturday's sunny weather.
By lunch, snow had begun to fall and it had got heavier by mid-afternoon.
Rainey said more snow was forecast to arrive this week.
"It's looking quite promising in that the weather is settling into good, cold productive weather patterns."
He said drivers co-operated with the warning about icy conditions on the road up the field, and the fact that chains would be needed on vehicles.
"Nelson and Marlborough people are really co-operative about that.
"We have huge praise for people given the challenging conditions getting up to the ski area."
This anniversary year, Rainbow is offering school holiday programmes and competitions, and entertainment programmes will be held during the weekends.
Hay said the skifield would stay open until the beginning of October.
"A lot of people don't realise but some of the best skiing is during spring," he said.
- The Nelson Mail
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