Some eager punters even camped on the mountain overnight to ensure they didn’t have to queue before getting in their first run.
Some eager punters camped on Canterburys Mt Hutt overnight to ensure they didn’t have to queue before getting in their first run.
Mt Hutt Ski Area manager James McKenzie said staff were equally excited to get the season under way on Friday and a healthy group of skiers and snowboarders were flowing onto the slopes from about 8.15am.
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As of midday, more than 2200 people had descended on Mt Hutt a record opening day turnout, beating the previous record of 2093 set in 2009.
For an opening day thats a great indicator of whats in store for us for the rest of the season.
READ MORE:* Mt Hutt ready for snow sport lovers to hit the slopes * Hanmer Springs Ski Area opens for first time this year after storm brings large snow dump * Car pooling and early starts needed to avoid southern ski area queues
Eager punters line up to use Mt Hutt’s new eight-person chairlift: the NorWest Express.
McKenzie said eight enthusiastic skiers spent a night or two on the mountain to score the first seats on the skifield’s new eight-seater chairlift, the NorWest Express.
Brendan Lindsay, from Christchurch, claimed the bragging rights after camping out for two nights, while the Ritchie family spent a night ensuring they were next in the queue and frequent Mt Hutt visitor Ben Yorston secured his first ride spot for the ninth year in a row.
The new chairlift was the first of its kind in New Zealand and could carry up to 3000 people an hour to the top of the run in two minutes more than twice the number the old quad chairlift could.
MT HUTT SKI AREA/SUPPLIED
The first punters on the newly opened Nor’West Express chairlift at Mt Hutt skifield on opening day 2021. From left: Brendan Lindsay, Gilbert Storer, Chloe Keijzer, Ben Yorston, Noelani- Ritchie, Terry Ritchie and Evan Ritchie.
Its a substantial difference so youll get a lot more time on the snow and less time in the queue.
McKenzie said the skifield received a decent dumping of snow down to base level in late May, which helped ensure it could open on Friday as planned.
Weve got a bluebird day with clear skies, no wind. Its absolutely idyllic up here with a lot of excited people.
MT HUTT SKI AREA/SUPPLIED
Skiers ride the new chairlift.
Pete Wood, who runs the Ski Time lodge in Methven, was amongst the first on the slopes.
He said conditions on the mountain could not have been better and credited Mt Hutt staff for putting in the work to get the skifield in such great shape.
Im just looking at the blue skies at Mt Hutt here and the new eight-seater lift going around and a lot of happy faces and happy punters here.
A sizeable crowd was already waiting before the skifield opened on June 12, 2020, including Ben Yorston, who was first in line for the eighth year in a row.
Being a local business operator, Wood said it was pleasing to see the skifield back up and running and that so many visitors were there backing the area.
People are a lot more positive as well with the [Covid-19] vaccine coming through [and] people are feeling a lot more confident with getting out there.
Kiwis have been absolutely fantastic supporting their own country and getting out and travelling and spending money.
Keen skiers and snowboarders flock to Mt Hutt skifield for a bluebird opening day on Friday.
Meanwhile, the large snow dump brought by Canterburys Code Red storm allowed the Hanmer Springs Ski Area to open its doors over Queens Birthday Weekend, making it the first to do so this ski season.
Club president Sarah Sleight earlier told Stuff Saturday was the skifields biggest day in 10 years, with about 90 per cent of punters being first-timers.
The skifield closed again on Monday because of wet weather and would remain closed until another dumping of snow came through.
Mt Hutt’s car parks fills up early on Friday as eager punters make their way to the slopes for opening day.
Further afield, Central Otagos Cardrona Alpine Resort had delayed its opening day to June 18 due to a lack of snow.
It would still open this weekend for sight-seeing gondola rides, as well as food, beverage and retail shopping.
Most of the other southern skifields were also expected to begin opening from late next week, with Coronet Peak slated for June 19, Porters Alpine Resort on June 25, The Remarkables and Treble Cone on June 26, and the Craigieburn Valley Ski Area on July 17.