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Ski season kicks off around NZ

Last updated 13:33 22/06/2012

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New Zealand's skifields are furiously making snow as the season gets into full swing.

While little natural snow has fallen, conditions were good for making it using snow machines.

 


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Geoff Wyatt, ski patrol director at Cardrona, said it was the first day of the season for their field. They had put 20-30 million litres of water through their snow machines and had a 35cm-65cm base.

He warned that heavier snow fall and cold temperatures meant there would be a significant avalanche danger in some parts of the country.

James Urquhart, general manager of operations at Mt Hutt, said the field was in its second week of operation. On Sunday the whole mountain was open.

The average snow base at Mt Hutt was 70cm, with temperatures of 3.2 degrees and overcast weather.

"Compared to this time last year we are a hundred times better."

Wyatt agreed that the conditions were much better than they were last year.

"We went right to the seventh of July with very warm temperatures."

The 10-day-long Queenstown Winter Festival opens at 7pm tonight at Earnslaw Park with a fireworks display and live entertainment. The ski fields around Queenstown are also open.

Ross Lawrence, ski area manager at the Remarkables ski area, said a quarter of their terrain was open.

"We're certainly enjoying good conditions for early in the season."

Their average snow base was 25cm and they had sunny conditions and 1 degree temperatures.

Urquhart said Coronet Peak were operating about 240 snowmaking guns. They had a snow base of 35cm and sunny, 3.6 degree conditions.

He said The Remarkables, Mt Hutt and Coronet Peak had all started on their scheduled dates.

Meanwhile, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts general manager Dave Mazey said snowmaking throughout the week at Whakapapa had added an excellent snow base of 30cm-50cm at Happy Valley and the Rockgarden.

"Happy Valley and the Rockgarden lifts will be operating  tomorrow, as well as Waterfall lift to Knoll Ridge for sightseeing, and the Knoll Ridge café will be open," he said.

"We have had some excellent snowmaking over the past 10 days and staff were shifting two metre deep wail's on Happy Valley from predominantly machine made snow.

"It's a  very good start to the season and I'm feeling reasonably bullish with the conditions forecast."

The upper slopes had received good snow cover but not sufficient enough to operate the top lifts this weekend.

Temperatures' on the mountain were hovering around minus 3 degrees.

Turoa fares better with snow forecast to fall on the weekend to coincide with the annual Mardi Gras festival at Ohakune.

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