Skifields welcome storm's bounty

Last updated 14:07 26/07/2011

Snowfall in the Tararua region

Winter Games 2011 - NZ snow hosts stars

Satellite image of New Zealand
WHITEOUT: Satellite image of New Zealand showing the snow cover from the Terra satellite via NASA. The image was taken over several sweeps late Tuesday morning.
Sophie Stevens, Pete Oswald, Lisa Mansell and Tove Kockumall look over the Queenstown basin from high on Coronet Peak's snowy slopes.

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The southerly front that closed roads and forced the cancellation of dozens of flights, stranding thousands of travellers during the school holidays, has been welcomed by New Zealand's skifields.

»Wild weather: The big freeze

The cold, dry snow - up to three metres on some fields over the past week - dumped on the warmest autumn on record has rescued the ski industry from pending disaster.

All but three of New Zealand's 24 skifields are now open and revelling in clear and cold conditions.

At Coronet Peak, skiers made the most of fresh powder with lifts opening at 8am for First Tracks members and night skiing planned for this week.

Around 4500 people made the most of the best snow day of the season so far, with 40cm of powder falling on The Remarkables.

"There were lots of 'yahoos', lots of excited people, smiles and high fives out there today with fresh snow just adding to the good times," said The Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence.

Mt Ruapehu skifields, Whakapapa and Turoa, are thoroughly covered after being bare just two weeks ago - both areas are reporting snow bases of more than 1.5 metres.

Mt Hutt remained closed today due to high winds, but hoped to be open for the remainder of the school holidays, which finish this weekend.

Canterbury and Mackenzie Country skifields received even more snow - 2.5m at Broken River - and are enjoying excellent July snow conditions. Meanwhile in the southern lakes region, Treble Cone, Cardrona, Snow Park and Snow Farm are grooming an excess of powder. 

The region hosts the New Zealand Winter Games next month, with Olympic level competition hosted by many of the southern skifields.

More snow is possible overnight in the next few days, but a large anticyclone is promising sunny days over most of the country.

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