SNOWFALL MARKS FANTASTIC START TO NEW ZEALAND SEASON (This Summer)

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Queenstown's Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski areas are celebrating one of their best early season snowfalls in years.



Snow has fallen to the level of downtown Queenstown twice in the past five days and by midday today (Tuesday June 22) Coronet Peak had received over 70cm of new snow and The Remarkables had received more than a metre.



Friday's surprise heavy snowfall, which caught all forecasters unawares, provided a good base of wet, dense snow at both ski areas. That was followed on Sunday and Monday night by light dry snow which the ski area groomers have been working on to pack down on main trails.



"The snowfalls have been superb and could not have come at a better time," said Coronet Peak manager Duncan Smith. "We've been able to open up more runs such as Greengates, Big Easy, Shirt Front, Wall Street, Upper and Lower Hurdle and Eighth Basin and there are plenty of off piste opportunities for keen skiers and boarders.



"The mountain's looking just magical and the snow couldn't have come at a better time with the Lindauer Queenstown Winter Festival scheduled to start on Friday."



Events planned on the mountain throughout the ten day festival include the 42 Below Celebrity Snow Day and International Cocktail Competition, the Lindauer Ski Golf Classic, Bike Fix GT Mountain Bikes on Snow, the Woodstock Half Pipe Expression Session, the hilarious Speights Dog Derby and the Telecom Family Mountain Carnival.



"Coronet Peak has been a proud supporter of the festival for its thirty year history and I've no doubt this festival will be the ultimate winter celebration," said Mr Smith.



The snowfall has enabled The Remarkables to confirm it will open for the 2004 season on Saturday June 26.



The Remarkables will open with the Sugar Bowl chairlift accessing the main Sugar Bowl trails and the newly enlarged Xbox Terrain Park, the Alta lift accessing all novice trails, Shadow Basin lift accessing all Shadow Basin main trails and the legendary Homeward runs, and the beginner's areas below the main base building, serviced by the Magic Carpet.



"The mountain's looking just fantastic and we have awesome snow coverage for this time of year," said ski area manager Hamish McCrostie.



The Remarkables ski area in Queenstown opened for the 2004 season Saturday (June 26) with fantastic snow cover following recent snowfalls.



Since Friday, the ski area has received more than a metre of snow and the snowmaking guns have been adding to that coverage in the beginner's areas and Alta Green trail.



The Remarkables currently has an upper mountain snow depth of approximately a metre and a 60cm snow base on the lower mountain.



"The mountain's looking just fantastic and we have awesome snow coverage for this time of year," said ski area manager Hamish McCrostie.



The Remarkables will open with the Sugar Bowl chairlift accessing the main Sugar Bowl trails and the newly enlarged Xbox Terrain Park, the Alta lift accessing all novice trails, Shadow Basin lift accessing all Shadow Basin main trails and the legendary Homeward runs, and the beginner's areas below the main base building, serviced by the Magic Carpet.



"The team here has put in a lot of hard work over summer and in the last few weeks, we've got fantastic snow coverage now with all this new snow, and everyone's really looking forward to getting underway," said Mr McCrostie.



The enlarged Xbox Terrain Park and new superpipe, making up the new freestyle area, has been developed over summer, tripling the size of the previous terrain park and opening up freestyle terrain for all levels of snowboarders and skiers.



The new Xbox Terrain Park will initially open with a number of rails, and as the season progresses will have a huge range of features catering for skiers and snowboarders from novice to advanced.



The superpipe will be built and maintained by a new Superpipe Magician and the Kassboher Park Bully groomer, and is expected to open soon.



Mr McCrostie said it would be a real drawcard for advanced level riders and skiers at 150m long and 22m wide, built to full FIS standards and expertly maintained.



The mountain will open with all facilities available. Children ten and under receive a free day lift pass at The Remarkables, and getting there is easy with a Johnston's Ski Shuttle from The Station building in Queenstown for $15 return for adults and $11.50 for children.

Well, in my opinion this is the best opening Cardrona has had in 20 years - and I have been here long enough to state that! With a mid field base of 35cm we opened with all lifts and facilities last Thursday although the Whitestar 'hiccuped' a bit on day one. Then on Sunday our extra altitude paid huge dividends with Cardrona picking up another 35-45cm.



On Monday we ordered up a helicopter and flew around taking aerial photos like the one pictured.

Currently a 40-90cm base of dry packed and tracked winter snow covers the entire mountain. The Terrain parks are rapidly evolving with two tabletops and half a dozen features up. It changes daily. The Moro Monster should be open Saturday with the International not far behind. Then its in to the Kids Park on the tail of Skyline with berms, rolls and tunnels all to be built before the school holidays.

Speaking of which I have to be very positive. Great snow, new padded fast Whitestar - things are as good as they can get, here's hoping for some good weather. Kids programmes are filling up fast.. Arrive early on Monday for Skiwees and look for the instructors and Carol (wild hair lady) to fast track registrations at ticketing.

Tomorrow is the official opening of the Whitestar Express. Helen Clark will be opening the lift and then off for a ski around the mountain and taking in the views from the top of Captains. Staff are getting in to the groove and of course morale is high. Surveys have picked up heaps of positive comments about the snow AND the padded seats on the Whitestar - so get up here soon and see what they are on about for yourself.

Cardrona Alpine Resort is enjoying another huge snowfall today (27 July) with 30 to 40cm of fresh snow since this morning and it's still snowing heavily.



"This is just a phenomenal start to the season," said Nigel Kerr, Cardrona spokesperson. "I can't remember it as good as this for over a decade. Once again our higher altitude is a bonus and the snow has been bucketing down since early morning. While the ski area opened as normal this morning, by midday we had to close the road to uphill traffic due to the snow. Conditions are looking great for the Prime Minister's visit on Thursday when she officially opens the new Whitestar Express chair lift. "



Cardrona is on track to get the Moro Monster and International half pipes up and running by the end of the week. The Heavy Metal and Playzone trails will continue to evolve as weather allows and should have the majority of features ready by next week's school holidays.

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