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Ski season gears up, carparks full

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/07/2016

School's out and there's new snow on New Zealand's ski areas but finding a place to park is an issue at some of them.

It's been a tricky ski season so far in New Zealand - the snow is late arriving and school holidays are early in the season - but many fields have opened with the help of large amounts of snow making.

It all came good for Mt Hutt in the Southern Alps this weekend with 10cm of new snow on Friday but the field had to apologise when its carpark filled up and it had to close the access road for part of Saturday.

Skiers on Facebook complained of long waits for shuttles at the bottom of the mountain and blamed the crowds on cheap season passes.

The ski area encouraged people to car pool and reopened the road when skiers who hit the field early left.

"The same thing (road closures) happened last year when our season passes were priced higher. Good weather during a school holiday weekend coupled with limited alternatives elsewhere in Canterbury are the main factors today. Every other day this season we have been operating well below capacity," Mt Hutt posted.

At Coronet Peak at Queenstown it was a beautiful day.

"We are OPEN - not only that but we are opening the whole mountain today, finally!"

Skiers heading to Whakapapa and Turoa on Mt Ruapehu in the centre of the North Island are also celebrating. The season opening was delayed but skiing is under way.

In two days 30cm of snow fell during the week and there was a top up of 15cm to 20cm on Friday night.

On Saturday afternoon Mt Ruapehu tweeted "Whakapapa: Road CLOSED due to full car parks".

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