Canterbury ski fields experience bumper season

Canterbury ski fields experience bumper season

Canterbury’s ski fields are experiencing a bumper season as skiers continue to take advantage of late snow.

Many of the region’s fields received another top up to an already decent snow base on the weekend, with some reporting another 20 centimetres of new snow.

Porters Ski Area has notched up one of its best seasons ever, general manager Uli Dinsenbacher said.

“This has been an amazing season for us. It started really well and it’s finishing really well.”

It was the first season the field’s $7 million chair lift has been in operation, which helped boost skier numbers, Dinsenbacher said.

He said 20cm of firm winter snow had fallen during the weekend.

“It’s -3 degrees in the middle of the day. It’s not often you get winter snow in September.”

A lack of snow plagued last season with many club fields forced to open late and most closed by mid-September.

Mt Cheeseman joint mountain manager Owen Wilson said he was running out of superlatives to describe this ski season.

The field’s Snowline 68-bed lodge was fully booked on Saturday night, which was almost unheard of for this time of year.

The temperatures had been colder and snowfalls smaller but more frequent this year, Wilson said.

Despite having plenty of snow, the field was due to close on Sunday, because usually once the end of September arrived, people turned their attention to summer sports, like mountain biking and tennis rather than skiing, he said.

“We tend to run out of people before snow,” Wilson said.

Temple Basin mountain manager Ben Peet said the field has had a pretty good year so far and received another 15cm on Friday night.

He said the seasons were tending to start later and finish later in recent years.

“We’ve had a lot of up and down years.”

Last season was a dismal one for ski fields, especially the smaller club fields.

Mt Hutt announced on Friday it was extending its ski season by a further week and would now close at the end of the school holidays on October 11.

Mt Hutt ski area manager James McKenzie said snow conditions have got better as the season has progressed.

“It’s been a number of seasons since we’ve had all terrain open at this time of year; we even saw guests heading out into remote areas like the Rakaia Saddle Chutes last weekend for the first time since early 2013.”

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