Canterbury’s Mt Hutt ski area celebrated the launch of its 2012 season with smiles all round as skiers and snowboarders gave it ’10 out of 10’ for on-trail snow conditions.
“It was fantastic to be able to say ‘Mt Hutt is open’ and let the first skiers and boarders make their way through the gates, ” said Mt Hutt ski area manager James McKenzie.
The first guests who arrived at 4:55am to be first on the Summit Chair were Sean Lister, Kalim Cuthire, Dave Roy, Chris Roy, Dorian Grault and Matt Welsh, all of whom claimed their coveted Mt Hutt ‘First On The Chair’ T-shirts.
Strong winds and resulting hazards meant the Summit Six and Highway 72 trails officially opened 45 minutes late at 9.45am, but the wait for Ski Patrol staff to make the area safe was worth it, according to Mr McKenzie.
The much anticipated first day on the slopes, which attracted approximately 1,400 skiers and boarders keen to enjoy the 65cm of snow blanketing the mountain following this week’s snowstorm, was celebrated with bubbles provided by Queenstown’s Amisfield winery.
“It’s turned into a great day up here,” said Mr McKenzie.
“I’ve spoken to heaps of guests and they are unanimously saying the conditions are fantastic. It’s really going off.
“On-trail conditions are 10 out of 10, with Morning Glory, Fascination and Broadway in primo condition!”
Ski area mascots Spike and Shred have been on the slopes welcoming kids and their families, many of whom are celebrating Mt Hutt’s ’10 and under’ ski free deal for youngsters.
“I met a family in the café who had travelled to Mt Hutt from Hanmer Springs, and were delighted that they had two children skiing for free on the mountain. They were having an awesome day, and were delighted with how friendly and helpful our staff has been, from the car park to the lifts to the café,” said Mr McKenzie.
“I’m delighted to hear how well the team is performing, especially as we’ve had a really challenging week with no access to the ski area on two out of four of our training and preparation days due to a blocked road.”
In Queenstown, NZSki CEO James Coddington said it was a “very proud moment” to see a huge team effort result in Mt Hutt and Coronet Peak open on the same day on schedule.
“It’s the culmination of a huge effort between two mountains, and 14 departments on each mountain, to officially open together.
“It’s the first time we’ve actually planned a joint opening and everybody’s given 100% to come together to achieve everything according to plan, even though it’s stretched our resources to the limit.
“Mt Hutt has been blessed with the snow, and Coronet Peak has been blessed with the cold temperatures.”
For up-to-date snow conditions and information go to www.nzski.com . For more information on the Kids 4 Free Mt Hutt and Methven campaign, go to www.kids4free.co.nz