Strong season for Wanaka skifields

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The season is not over yet but Wanaka skifields are already reporting a strong ski season.

Cardrona Alpine Resort general manager Bridget Legnavsky said numbers had not yet been counted but visitors were expected to surpass last year’s figures.

Visitor numbers had dropped off during August last year, but this year the fields had remained busy, she said.

The skifield was also able to open on time and closed on only three days during the season, she said.

“We had a really good start.

“We’re heading towards what could be a record snowfall season.”

Almost 3m of snow had fallen at Cardrona already and more was predicted to fall this week.

The Winter Games helped boost excitement and keep skiing in the forefront of people’s minds, and holding the games later had helped drive interest over the shoulder season, she said.

Cardrona will remain open until October 15. Treble Cone is set to close this weekend and is celebrating with a family day on Saturday before the official closing day on Sunday.

Snow Farm had its closing down day on the weekend, when about 100 people were attracted to the slopes.

Operations manager Sam Lee said the facility was also reporting a strong season, with visitor numbers a “massive improvement on last year”.

Unlike last year, Snow Farm was able to open on time on July 1 and had only two closing days during the season, due to extreme weather, he said.

Snow Farm was also included in the Winter Games this year but Mr Lee said spectator numbers during the events were low, which might also have been due to the weather.

“The Winter Games is a fantastic event but it doesn’t necessarily drive the public up here.”

Snow Farm’s strength lay in its diverse range of activities, from cross-country skiing to sled dog festivals, he said.

The Snow Fun Zone had been especially popular this year with people wanting to experience snow without going skiing, he said.

Skiing was, ultimately, what drove people to the area, but on rest days they were usually after a different experience, from building snowmen to tubing down the hill, he said.

The site was now gearing up for summer.

“We’re just really excited for next year.”