Southern ski fields challenged by lack of snow

A drier than average June is creating a challenge for Southern ski fields.

With winter snow taking its time to arrive, they've been forced into do-it-yourself snow-making. But even that's still not enough for one popular Wanaka Ski area.

The Treble Cone ski area was due to open on Thursday. But despite turning 80 million litres of water into snow, the mountain is still not ready for skiers. As a result, they're delaying the opening.

"Mother Nature hasn't played her part yet, we're just waiting for her to come to the party," says Treble Cone ski area general manager Toby Arnott.

They're not the only ones having problems with the lack of snow.

Queenstown's Coronet Peak's last decent snowfall was on Queen's Birthday weekend, over three weeks ago. Instead, it's relying on 222 snow guns to keep the field open.

"It would be nice to get some natural snow and a decent dollop at that and when it comes we will rejoice," says Coronet Peak ski area manager Nigel Kerr.

"Until then we will work on being open having a product for our visitors."

At Canterbury's Mount Hutt, newly installed snow guns are working overtime. They're pumping out 140 litres of water a second, making 5000 tonnes of snow in the last week.

The ski fields face a long wait for the natural stuff. MetService is predicting snow still could be a few weeks away.

"It's not until the third week of July that we see the westerly flow kick in," says MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray.

"That's when it opens the door to some decent snowfalls from the Southern Ocean."

So, for now, it's a waiting game for Arnott and the team at Treble Cone - hoping Mother Nature hurries up and delivers the 'white gold' they're waiting for.


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