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Slow start to NZ ski season

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/06/2016 Cleo Fraser

Coronet Peak Ski Field, Queenstown, Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand © Doug Pearson/AWL Images/Getty Images Coronet Peak Ski Field, Queenstown, Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand Those on the slopes say a lack of a snow this early on in the New Zealand ski season is nothing unusual despite some closures and opening delays.

Excitement levels were high after heavy snowfalls in late May and early June, but hopes were dashed when temperatures rose and much of the white stuff vanished.

Coronet Peak near Queenstown has been closed since last Wednesday, while the opening of Porters near Christchurch and both Whakapapa and Turoa skifields on Mt Ruapheu have been delayed.

Mt Hutt and The Remarkables are open, however some areas remain closed.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts CEO Dave Mazey was hopeful the higher slopes would be open in time for the school holidays.

"We've already had two reasonable snowfalls so we have a base on the upper mountain," he said.

"We expect that with one or two more heavy snowfalls we will be able to open for intermediate and advanced skiing."

Paul Anderson, CEO of NZSki which operates the Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt, said it wasn't unusual for the snow to arrive late, but the fact things got off to a good start and then fizzled had been frustrating.

"At this time of the year the snow can be stubborn in arriving - we were pretty excited when it did arrive and we opened so well so it's added to the disappointment seeing it disappear," he told NZ Newswire.

He said the disappointment from skiers was probably compounded by the fact that a high number had bought season passes.

Anton Wilke from Porters Ski Area said on average the ski field met its target of opening on June 20 about every second year.

"Sometimes we're a week or two later so we're not too far off our normal opening days but obviously we're looking closely at the weather system that's tracking through early next week at this stage," he said.

"We're quietly optimistic we'll get the deliver of white stuff that's essential for our business.

"I can recall having a conversation with an old dude back in the late 1970s and he said to me the ski season doesn't start until after the shortest day, so we've only just passed that."

Samuel Reiseger had planned to hit the slopes while visiting Christchurch this month from his home in Queensland's tropical north.

"I came over because I really, really wanted to go snowboarding and I've been hanging out since the start of June but there still hasn't been enough snow," he told NZ Newswire.

"When I first arrived there was a huge dump of snow and then someone told me the winds changed and it all turned to crap.

"But I'll be back."

MetService meteorologist Chelsea Glue said the only snow forecast near ski fields over the next five days was a small amount early next week around Queenstown and Wanaka.

But there was some good news - a cold blast expected to hit much of the south will bring about perfect snow-making conditions.

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