It's snowtime ... with more to come

GRANT BRYANT AND KOREN ALLPRESS
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014

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An approaching storm is expected to dump heavy snow on the Southern Lakes skifields, kickstarting the annual winter tourism boom estimated to reap $200 million annually for the region.

NZSki yesterday announced it would open The Remarkables tomorrow.


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The field was originally to open on June 21, the shortest day and first day of the Queenstown Winter Festival.

Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence said a highlight of opening day would be the first chance for skiers and boarders to ride the new Curvey Basin Chairlift to the top of the ski area, opening up new trails and stunning views.

"I can only see thrills, exhilaration and a whole lot of excitement coming our way when people get to go for a ride on Curvey, check out what they can see from the top station, and get their first runs on the new trail," he said.

The chairlift is the the first phase of a $40 million investment by NZSki in the Remarkables, with the second phase, a new base building, to be opened by the start of next winter.

Yesterday there was steady snow at Cardrona. Coronet Peak had new snow on Monday and snow makers were blasting. Treble Cone had 22cm of fresh snow from overnight showers and was hoping to open on Friday.

The Wanaka skifield had initially scheduled a June 26 opening.

Meanwhile, the MetService was predicting sleety showers for Central Otago, followed by two clear but cold days with a maximum temperature of 3 degrees celsius, followed by hail showers on Saturday.

Temperatures plunged on Monday night, resulting black ice on Tuesday morning which caused a three-vehicle crash and a delivery van flipping near Queenstown yesterday morning.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council received widespread reports of black ice, with the worst-affected areas being Arthurs Point and State Highway 6 from Gibbston to Frankton.

Southland is also in line for a cold front, snow having closed the Milford Rd from the Holyford turnoff.

New Zealand Transport Agency Southland network senior Peter Robinson said snow was beginning to accumulate on the Milford Rd back towards Te Anau and people would need to allow for extra time when driving in winter conditions.

There was a low risk of an avalanche.

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- The Southland Times

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