Real snow or not, South Island ski fields ready for school holidays

Real snow or not, South Island ski fields ready for school holidays

South Island ski fields are looking forward to a busy school holiday season, despite a lack of snow so far this winter.

The sludgy conditions forced Coronet Peak to close last month, but the ski area is preparing to reopen on Saturday from 8am.

Coronet Peak manager Ross Copland says they've been working hard with the assistance of 217 snowmaking machines to get the slopes ready.

"It's been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to get to this point", he says. "We've made every snow flake up here. We're obviously beyond delighted to open this weekend."

Real snow or not, South Island ski fields ready for school holidays

Coronet Peak terrain park crew member Sebastian Lemaire on the M1 (Coronet Peak)

The system has pumped out 51.5 million litres of water over the past 16 days, converting it into 129,000m3 of snow.

That's created a 10-15cm snow base in the lower mountain, and a 30-40cm base on the upper part of Coronet Peak.

Snowmaking is expected to continue through the day and into the night, and natural snow is forecast to fall around the middle of next week with freezing temperatures set to continue.

Night Skiing is also set to kicks off for the season from 4pm, continuing into the dark.

"It's looking set to be an awesome night with an airbag down on the deck, a DJ spinning tunes, and a Bobsled Championship competition running", says Mr Copland.

"It's a fantastic way to kickstart the school holidays and welcome the thousands of Kiwi families and overseas visitors who'll come up the mountain in weeks to come. It's great news for the Queenstown economy that we're up and running again."

Some of Coronet's staff and resources have been moved recently to sister ski area The Remarkables, which has been operating thanks to its higher altitude.  It has already hosted large numbers of school holiday visitors from Australia.

Overnight snowmaking and grooming at Cardrona has added to the light dusting of natural snow the resort received on Wednesday.

But a lack of snow at Treble Cone has largely kept the field closed, although beginners areas were set to open on Friday. 

Conditions are set to improve in the next few days, with the snow guns continuing to pump out snow to help prepare the rest of the mountain.

Meanwhile, light snow has been falling at the base at Canterbury's Mt Hutt ski field, with wintry conditions expected to continue.

Video supplied by Coronet Peak.