South Island ski area snow cannons ready

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Coronet Peak had a lot of snow on opening day last year.

The South Island ski slopes are gearing up for snowfall as natural snow is expected to fall later this week.

The Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence said the incoming cold could mean 10-20cm of snow on the mountain, “which is very welcome at this time of year”.

Coronet Peak Ski Area Manager Nigel Kerr said weather permitting, the team there would fire the snow cannons and stick to crew training for Coronet Peak and Remarkables staff.

On Monday, the crew moved about 20 snow cannons around the hill by helicopter, and Kerr said they hoped this weekend would be a good opportunity to work out a few issues and check out how that cannon arrangement would work.

However, with the ski season still a month away, they wouldn’t go too far, Kerr said.

“Put snow on the ground is not a bad thing, it helps to cool the ground, it helps prepare for the next snowfall.

“Normally what we do is launch Coronet first, [as] it has the biggest system – it needs more of a shakedown – fire it up, then as the temps drop we fire up Remarkables.

Lawrence said that while the crew was training at Coronet, the Remarkables wouldn’t be snowing this weekend, but he anticipated that once the crew were back on the mountain from the middle of the next week, snowmaking would start soon after.

Laura Hedley, general manager of Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone, said it was time to “start doing snow dances”.

Both ski areas had upgraded their snowmaking facilities ahead of the ski season.

“Treble Cone’s new pumphouse has arrived and is being installed, while Cardrona has built a new reservoir that increases our snowmaking capacity by 50 percent,” Hedley said.

“Both mountains will start producing snow as soon as [temperatures] permit building on any natural snow that falls.”

Opening dates are scheduled for June 11 for Cardrona and June 25 for Treble Cone.

MetService forecast possible snow up to 600m this weekend.

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