Skifields desperate as openings postponed

'This crazy weather bomb has taken a toll'

SARAH JARVIS
Last updated 05:00 27/06/2014
timaru snow mt hutt
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MORE PLEASE: Snow-making machines work at Mt Hutt skifield. After opening two weeks ago, the skifield has closed until temperatures drop. The recent warm weather and lack of snow means come other skifields around the region will also not open as planned this weekend.

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One important thing is missing from the region's skifields - snow.

Roundhill Ski Area was due to open tomorrow but manager Simon Murrell confirmed the opening has had to be postponed.

"Our staff are all on board and sitting here ready to go - but the lack of snow means we won't be opening this Saturday," Murrell said.

"We haven't set another date yet but the weather forecast is looking promising early next week, so maybe we will be able to open next Saturday."

Mt Hutt skifield general manager of operations James Urquhart said it has had to be closed after initially opening two weeks ago.

"This crazy weather bomb has taken a toll. Rain has affected our snow base and I don't think anyone out there would say it's been a record start."

Urquhart said they were now taking things "day by day".

He said they had the ability to pump out 300 tonnes of snow per hour but ideally it needed to be colder.

"We're making snow until the cows come home - but the situation is far from perfect. We are praying it either snows or the temperatures drop."

Ohau Lodge general manager operator Mike Neilson said despite the less than perfect weather over the last week, they were still aiming to open tomorrow.

"We're expecting it to get pretty cool over the next day or so, so we're hoping to open as scheduled," he said.

Dobson skifield owner-operator Peter Foote said the recent "mixed bag" of weather was certainly concerning.

"We are all ready to go but the exceptionally warm weather at high altitude and rain on the snow base is not good."

Foote said they hoped to open on July 4, but would review that date in the middle of next week.

"We're hoping the temperature drops this week and next week," he said.

He said they always aimed to be open for the start of the July school holidays, although the weather was sometimes "diabolical".

Fox Peak club president Grant Keeley said everyone was in the same position.

"We are still aiming for July 12, but we haven't had enough snow yet so we can't say we will definitely open on July 12 - setting a date is silly as it is all subject to snow."

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- The Timaru Herald

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