Southern Alps heliski operators Harris Mountains Heliski kicked their operation into gear this week with guides reporting descents down to valley floors on runs that “have not been experienced in the past 20-odd years”.
Queenstown is buzzing after continuous heavy snow falls, combined with consistently cold temperatures, turned the downtown resort and its surrounding mountains into a winter wonderland.
Further north, but still in the Southern Alps, Canterbury’s 13 ski areas - spreading from Hanmer Springs in the north to Mackenzie and Aoraki Mt Cook in the south - are reporting fresh powder and excellent skiing and snowboarding conditions.
Destination Queenstown chief executive Tony Everitt says the town is buzzing.
“Everyone’s really fired up, people have been pouring into town and businesses are pumping. There’s always a real buzz when the snow comes in force, particularly when we get it downtown.”
“The beauty of Queenstown is that you don’t have to be a skier or boarder to enjoy the winter season here. Our lake and mountain scenery is stunning, and there’s a huge range of things to do on and off the mountains for all ages and all budgets.”
Everitt lists activities “from the wild to the mild” including cosmopolitan shopping, day spas, more than 150 restaurants and bars, award-winning vineyards, and budget to five-star accommodation options - making Queenstown an all-weather holiday destination.
Snow storms have dumped up to two metres of fresh powder on the Queenstown region’s six ski fields in just a few days, with blue skies since then topping that off.
Queenstown’s closest ski field Coronet Peak has received around 0.9m of snow in the past week, while The Remarkables has notched up 0.8m and opened its Shadow Basin terrain.
At Wanaka, Cardrona Alpine Resort has received 1.15m of accumulated snow fall since opening day. Snow Park NZ has received 1.2m since opening on 30 June, while cross country ski area Snow Farm has also been blanketed with 1.2m of white gold.
Treble Cone ski area has been inundated with snow, receiving at least two metres in the last week (1.8m fell in the car park alone) and ski area staff are grooming and opening up new terrain daily.
The timing of the snowfall has been good news for families making the most of Australian and local school holidays.
Canterbury ski fields
In Canterbury, ski areas such as Porters on the Great Alpine Highway, Roundhill near Lake Tekapo, and Mt Lyford near Hanmer, have all had huge dumps of snow in the past week.
Craigieburn ski area - 90 minutes from Christchurch - opened on Monday, and is blanketed in thick powder snow. Roundhill, a family ski area and training field for international ski teams, opened with pristine snow conditions and a 1m base.
Over the past week, Porters has received up to 1.5m of snow, with strong winds spreading the snow around the mountain. Mt Lyford has a deep 1.30m base. And Broken River - an iconic Canterbury club field, 90 minutes west of Christchurch - celebrated its 60th club birthday last week with a 1.75 m dump of fresh powder snow.
At Mt Hutt, the snow makers and groomers have been working hard to provide wide groomed trails. With blue skies, sunshine and light to moderate winds, there are superb skiing and riding conditions.
Methven Heliski is reporting “metres and metres of powder” for skiers and snowboarders in the vast back country Arrowsmith Range region.
“We are enjoying some great weather with the very best Canterbury conditions - cold nights, light winds and clear crisp days that make for superb skiing and riding,” said Tim Hunter, chief executive of Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism.
Throughout the rest of the South Island, all ski areas are open and operating.
In the North Island, the Ruapehu fields - Whakapapa, Turoa, and Tukino - and the Taranaki ski areas are all operating with good snow falls.
Also in New Zealand today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to Wellington.
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