Rough weather brings snow to Canterbury peaks

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 08:13 01/05/2014
Snow at Porters skifield
Supplied/Porters Ski Area

DECENT DUMP: Porters skifield near Christchurch received about 20 centimetres of snow during this week's bad weather.

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Bad weather may have brought floods to South Island towns but eyes have turned to the mountains which received the first decent dump of snow for the season.

Staff at Mt Hutt managed to get onto the mountain yesterday, to discover wind drifts of up to two metres, said operations general manager James Urquhart.

It was deep enough that staff needed ski-doos to get around and Urquhart said a heavy dump this time of year was "normal".

"But this is actually a pretty good snowfall.

"It's a pretty good start for this time of year," he said.

Nearby Porters Ski Area had about 20 centimetres, said marketing manager Guy Nurse. He said the snow would not stick around but it was a good sign that southerlies were starting to arrive after a "long, warm summer".

Snow falling now would help to cool the ground down, so later snowfall would not melt so quickly.

Skifields further south were hoping the early dump would get people thinking about their winter holidays, particularly with more flights available into the South Island.

In January, Qantas announced additional flights between Sydney and Queenstown to cater to snow tourists. From July 4 there will be daily flights between the two cities until late October.

Qantas International chief executive Simon Hickey said the demand for the additional services had "exceeded our expectations".

"We're seeing a mix of customers booking including those connecting from the US and Japan."

Though the flights would be taking people directly to Queenstown, Urquhart thought it would attract people who would otherwise fly via Auckland.

"At the end of the day, Christchurch Airport still does more flights from Australia than any other airport in the South Island."

Cardrona services manager Bridget Legnavsky said between 15 and 20 centimetres of snow had fallen on the mountain during Monday's foul weather, but warm temperatures meant it would melt away.

Treble Cone marketing and sales manager Nick Noble said Sunday and Monday's weather had brought about 10 to 15 centimetres of snow around the base building in a "nice little pre-season snowfall".

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- The Press

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