Skifield operators, staff hoping for snow

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A forecast of colder temperatures from this weekend is fuelling hope that all skifields in Wanaka and Queenstown will be open for the July school holidays which begin on Monday.
Treble Cone Ski Area and Snow Farm New Zealand, on the Pisa Range, postponed their opening days last week because of warm early winter weather.
Meanwhile, in Queenstown, Coronet Peak Ski Area, which opened on June 11, closed temporarily last week due to inadequate snow cover.
Speaking to The News, Treble Cone Ski Area chief executive Jackie van der Voort said at present there was just 5cm of snow ‘‘up high’’ at the South Island’s largest ski area.
Embarking on her 30th season at the field, she was philosophical about the delay.
‘‘This has happened every three years since 2002. But this year caught us by surprise as the last late start was 2014,’’ Mrs van der Voort said.
‘‘It is, however, looking positive for early next week with some snow due for Monday and Tuesday.’’
About 200 staff would work at the skifield this winter and on Tuesday they were on ‘‘day seven’’ of a stand-down.
‘‘We are engaging them on a daily basis and organising two to three activities a week to help create memorable experiences,’’ Mrs van der Voort said.
Quiz nights and hikes to the Rob Roy Glacier in Mount Aspiring National Park had all been part of the programme. ‘‘They are activities not based around alcohol,’’ she said.
Staff were getting to know one another and were supporting one another.
When the season did get going ‘‘it will be a really strong team’’.
Coronet Peak Ski Area manager Ross Copland said he, too, was expecting ‘‘some good cold weather’’, possibly from tomorrow.
About 550 staff were employed at the field which was continuing to operate sightseeing trips and tubing. Its cafe was also open.
‘‘Some of our staff are also working at The Remarkables.’’
Meanwhile, about 20 staff had taken up the offer of living in Cromwell for the season and were staying at The Chalets in Barry Ave.
‘‘It just gives people another option,’’ Mr Copland said.
It was ‘‘crystal ball-gazing’’ to estimate whether there would be an increase in the number of people using the option.
Nordic skifield Snow Farm New Zealand, situated on the Pisa Range, could not be contacted for comment but on its Facebook page said it remained closed.
MetService meteorologist Ciaran Doolin said a weak front expected to cross the South Island later this week could result in lower freezing levels and some snow in inland areas.
‘‘However, there is no major precipitation on offer.’’ Temperatures in Wanaka on Saturday could range from 11degC to freezing, he said.