Fresh snowfalls on New Zealand’s southern winter playgrounds have arrived on cue for mid-winter holidays and the opening of Treble Cone - the South Island’s largest ski area.
An overnight wintry blast brought over 35cm of fresh snow to Treble Cone, topping up the snow base in time for last Thursday’s opening day.
With further snowfalls forecast over the next three days and ideal snow making temperatures, skiers and boarders could look forward to good conditions in the Home Basin for their first turns of the season, according to Treble Cone slopes manager Dave Crotty.
Snow groomers had been working hard moving snow around, packing and grooming the runs to create optimum snow conditions, he said.
Train snow ploughs
Meanwhile video footage of a train ploughing through deep fresh snow on a South Island rail route has become a YouTube hit with more than 866,000 visits to date.
Kiwi cameraman Geoff Mackley captured the train near Arthur’s Pass, as it negotiated the highest point on the spectacular TranzAlpine rail route between Christchurch and the West Coast.
From the South Island’s eastern coast, the TranzAlpine route - rated as one of the world’s great scenic train trips - follows the Waimakariri river across the Canterbury plains, climbing into the Southern Alps on a series of spectacular viaducts, then descends from Arthur’s Pass via the Otira Tunnel into rain forest before finishing at Greymouth.
Heavy snow is falling about the west and south of New Zealand’s South Island. It is forecast to fall to near sea level in Fiordland and Southland, and down to about 200m on the West Coast as a chilly southwest flow passes over the country.
Snow was almost down to lake level in central Queenstown where snow ploughs and gritting trucks were on the job as skiers and boarders flocked to the mountains to ride the fresh powder.
Queenstown’s closest ski area Coronet Peak reported approximately 30cm of snow overnight, while ‘sister’ ski field The Remarkables notched up 20cm and Cardrona Alpine Resort received 25cm. Snow showers are continuing today.
In the North Island, it is snowing on the Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas, both on Mt Ruapehu.
The snow made a timely appearance for Queenstown’s annual Winter Festival, the resort’s longstanding mid-year celebration which marks the official start to winter.
The 10-day event includes on-mountain action, fireworks, street parties, concerts, comedy, free family fun, and a mix of internationally acclaimed performers and home-grown acts.
Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd said the timing couldn’t have been better. “Mother Nature has definitely come to the party!”