Skiers camp in snow overnight as Coronet Peak opens for business

Queenstown's Coronet Peak is officially open for business.

Almost 2000 people hit its slopes for the opening day making the most of the wintry conditions.

Ski Area manager Nigel Kerr says it's been a fantastic start to the season.

"The mix of both relief and anticipation and just overall happiness - that's something I will definitely take away," he told Newshub.

Some keen skiers even camped in the snow overnight to ensure they were first up the chair lifts.

Kerr said it was quite the scene.

"I was very surprised when I walked in at 5 o'clock this morning [Friday] and there were two people sitting up by a little fire," he said. "They were cooking sausages."

But despite the big day, Kerr told Newshub they're not expecting a busy season.

"We are expecting the holidays to be our busiest time and that will be our peak bit of business for the winter," he said.

Cardrona Alpine Resort, which sits between Queenstown and Wanaka, also opened its ski fields on Friday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, meanwhile, has announced an $85 million infrastructure package for Queenstown - arguably the hardest hit area in New Zealand by COVID-19.

The money will go towards the resort town's centre and stage one of its arterials.

Ardern, who was in Queenstown on Friday, said it's another tool to help the town recover post-COVID-19.

"This is only one part of the announcements that will be having an impact on Queenstown," she said. "We know, for instance, the wage subsidy has made a difference here."

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said he's pleased the Government is recognising the town's needs.

"This is a major shot in the arm for our district," he said. "This will create jobs - you all know that we have massive unemployment."

The overall tourism sector is also getting a boost from the Government - with most Department of Conservation tourism-related fees from March to the end of June next year to be waived.

Kelvin Davis said the $25m of support should help lift some of the burdens for operators.

"We know there are still tough times ahead but this Government is doing as much as we can to try and alleviate some of those pressures," the Tourism Minister said.