With just two weeks until the opening of the first two New Zealand ski fields, the South Island alpine resort town of Queenstown, and the surrounding mountains, were blanketed following a bumper overnight snowfall on Sunday night (25.05.2014).
Queenstown, often referred to as the ‘Adventure Capital’, is the South Island’s premier ski destination. The significant dump of snow, and decreasing temperatures, helped transform Queenstown overnight into a winter wonderland, giving ski area operators a massive boost ahead of the new season.
The 2014 ski season will be officially welcomed in Queenstown with the start of the annual American Express Queenstown Winter Festival on 20 June. The multi-award winning festival (20 – 29 June 2014) will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a series of iconic events – fireworks, live music, street parades, and comedy.
With four world-class ski areas to choose from, Queenstown and the nearby lakeside town of Wanaka are the biggest ski destinations in New Zealand. The Southern Lakes region is popular with Australian tourists, and the expected seasonal influx has prompted an allocation of 55,000 extra seats on flights from Australia to Queenstown during the winter season.
New Zealand’s southern ski fields are also a popular choice for many elite international ski and snowboard stars who dive down-under to continue their training over the northern hemisphere summer. Twenty-one of the freestyle athletes who trained last winter at Wanaka’s Cardrona ski area became Olympic medal-winners at Sochi. And, for those who follow, Wanaka is home to Kiwi free-styling stars the Wells brothers – Jossi, Beau-James, Byron and Jackson.
A 45-minute drive from Queenstown, The Remarkables mountain range received 50 centimetres of snow. Canterbury’s Porters Ski Area also received its fair share of the magic white stuff as temperatures fell to around minus 6.8 degrees Celsius on the tops.
Coronet Peak and Canterbury’s Mt Hutt received a light dusting, but a continuing multi-million dollar investment into snow guns at various South Island ski areas is set to ensure, come opening day, there will be plenty of snow to enjoy.
About 10cm of snow also fell on Mt Ruapehu, a welcome gift for the North Island’s two main ski fields, Turoa and Whakapapa, which are set for a 28 June opening.
New Zealand ski field 2014 season opening dates:
- Mt Hutt (Canterbury) – 7 June 2014
- Coronet Peak (Queenstown) – 7 June 2014
- Cardrona Alpine Resort (Wanaka) – 20 June 2014
- Porters (Canterbury) – 20 June 2014
- The Remarkables (Queenstown) – 21 June 2014
- Treble Cone (Wanaka) – 26 June 2014
- Turoa (Ruapehu)- 28 June 2014
- Whakapapa (Ruapehu)- 28 June 2014
- Ohau (Canterbury) – 28 June 2014
- Roundhill (Canterbury) – 28 June 2014
- Mt Dobson (Canterbury) – 1 July 2014