It’s taken its time arriving but this week has finally seen some decent snow much to the delight of the locals. In fact, the snowfalls in the last few days have been so widespread that some beaches have even seen a light dusting. Christchurch had 30 cm and 2,000 homes were without electricity – from one extreme to the other! But the snow drought is over…
However, the season is still not quite into its full swing yet. 5 resorts have still not had enough snow to open: Mt. Hutt, Porters, Mt. Dobson and Ohau and although Snow Park NZ has its one lift open, there is only 70cm of snow so it remains closed. The only 3 resorts that have all their lifts open are The Remarkables (75 cm), Coronet Peak (115 cm) and the Roundhill Ski Area (100 cm). 40 cms of fresh powder fell at the Remarkables on the 25th. “There were lots of ‘yahoos’, lots of excited people, smiles and high fives out there with fresh snow just adding to the good times,” said The Remarkables ski area manager, Ross Lawrence.
Turoa has the most snow with 196 cm, Mt. Lyford has 150 cm and Treble Cone – 148 cm. Whakapapa has 140 cm and Cardrona 100. A good base, but not quite all their lifts open yet.
A little more research shows me that Temple Basin in the Canterbury area is winging it – 300 cm of snow and its still snowing. The Methven Heliskiing in the same area is open and has an average of 350 cm. Helipark NZ, also in Canterbury, is scheduled to open today, the 29th July.
The Southern Alps of New Zealand have a lot to offer and a lot more resorts than the ones I’ve mentioned above, but the others are, generally, smaller. They are in various stages of open or not-yet-open… but the snow is predicted to continue so this report is bound to change by tomorrow.
Why has the snow been so late in coming? It’s all because of that dreaded phenomenon – La Niña.
La Niña was very strong earlier in the year and The National Institute of Water and the Atmosphere (NIWA) predicted a triple threat for ski resorts as a result:
• More frequent northerly and north-westerly winds.
• Above average temperatures
• Below average rainfall for South Island resorts.
Not good for snow. However, snowfall over the New Zealand Alps tends to be pretty reliable so all is not lost and international skiers such as Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller will be pleased with the latest snowfall as they are due to arrive in New Zealand shortly for some out-of-season training.
It’s not only New Zealand that’s seeing the white stuff come down in quantity – up North, Perisher in New South Wales, Australia is proud of the fact that they’re possibly having better snow than their neighbours:
… and across the ocean, South America is also experiencing huge snowfalls. Argentina is now able to report good levels of snow and Chile is reeling under the weight of it. A heavy snowfall over a four day period left thousands of people isolated in 8 districts. In some places it is the worst snow for 3 decades.
That was Chile, and if you’re wondering about off-piste skiing there’s some pretty good stuff there too.
There’s a certain amount of envy emanating from this post – what a ski weekend lies ahead for you lucky skiers down under!