To the snowy Peak

AMY PARSONS-KING
Last updated 08:52 30/06/2014
REBEKAH PARSONS-KING/Stuff.co.nz

Coronet Peak is the first ski field to open in NZ. Here's what goes into preparing a mountain for the winter season.

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It's a brisk dawn morning as we make the 13km ascent up the winding hill from Queenstown to Coronet Peak ski field.

As we approach the twinkling lights of the reception building and the blinking snow-cat vehicles zigzagging across the slopes gradually creep closer, my stomach churns with excitement and anticipation.

It's the beginning of the South Island ski-season. It may be just the start of the season for me, however for the staff of Coronet Peak, their season began well before the first big dump of snow in May.

A team of approximately 25 staff and contractors work tirelessly throughout the year to prepare for the ski season, gradually increasing in number until June/July's peak season, which sees between 500 and 530 staff employed.

These enthusiastic snow seekers come from all corners of the globe, including Japan, North America, Europe, United Kingdom and Australia to work at New Zealand's first ski-field.

Despite snow fall being minimal this year, with one of Australasia's largest snow making systems, Coronet Peak and has been able to open on schedule.

The ski-field has 215 snow guns, which cover 21km of terrain.  So far this season 110,000 m3 of water has been converted into powdery snow,  when weather conditions permit they can make up to 25,000 m3 in a single day.

Coronet Peak Ski Area Manager Ross Copeland says snow-sports are a great sport to try, as the whole family can take part.

"The thing that's so exciting about skiing and snowboarding is that you can do it your entire life. We've got families who come here year after year, with grandparents and grandkids out enjoying a day of skiing together. It's easy to learn and we can get people up onto the big chair lifts in just 2-3 days."

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