14 Jul 2016

Skiers hit slopes after heavy snowfalls

5:47 pm on 14 July 2016

The winter storm that swept over the country in the last 24 hours has brought relief to ski field operators.

Operators in the South Island reported snow dumps of up to 15cm, while Ruapehu in the North Island was bracing itself for more snow today.

Cardrona spokesperson Bridget Legnavsky said snow started falling yesterday, it was still snowing today and looked like it would be tomorrow as well.

Ms Legnavsky said the lacklustre season so far in the Southern Lakes area had not been great for its reputation.

"For us, it's about the whole Southern Lakes [area]. We were open and we were doing really well, after we got a good start late May - and early June when we had good snow falls and a lot of snow making," she said.

"We had all our main trails open and they were all skiing great, but there wasn't huge amount of off-piste."

"We need the whole area to be doing well for people to want to come and visit. It is snowing in Southern Lakes - it's dumping in Southern Lakes and it's going to be epic," Ms Legnavsky said.

The Remarkables ski area had 12cm of fresh snow, all lifts were operating, but the wind was expected to pick up later today.

Ross Copland of Coronet Peak said up to 15cm had fallen overnight and this morning, and skiers had been on the mountain since early this morning.

Coronet Peak was popular at 1pm today.

Coronet Peak was popular at 1pm today. Photo: MetService

He said there was still not enough snow for off-piste skiing, but the trails were good.

"We did start to wonder if we'd ever see the white stuff again. It's been one of those winters, but to finally have a good cold snap is amazing."

Mr Copland said the 2011 season started the same, and went on to be a record year. He said it was too early to say if the same might happen this year.

"We've seen in the past a late start goes on to be an incredible July, August and September."

Mr Copland said if the conditions remained good, it was possible the season at Coronet could extend to late October.

Mount Hutt operations general manager James Urquart said the area had been blasted by winds over 240km/h, and they had to cut their way through trees that had fallen across the access road this morning.

He said they had not had the same snowfalls that had been seen further south, but they were happy with whatever they could get.

"It's been an interesting couple of days, that's for sure. It's hit-and-miss with the snow at the moment and we've only received two or three centimetres overnight, but it's still windy - it's snowing and it's blowing so it's not the best recipe but we'll take the snow any day," Mr Urquart said.

Mt Ruapehu spokeswoman Anna McLaren said it was snowing well on the mountain with more forecast over the next few days.

She said some lower areas were open and the operators would decide on Saturday whether to open upper areas.

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