Coronet Peak has New Zealand’s largest snowmaking system, and they have officially fired it up, heralding the start of winter for the country’s most popular winter holiday destination.

Overnight temperatures dropped to minus 7 degrees, enabling Coronet Peak’s snowmaking team to fire up its massive 217-snowgun system.

Guns fire up at Coronet Peak
Guns fire up at Coronet Peak

Ski Area Manager Ross Copland says there was 5 cm of natural snow at the summit and a skiff of snow fell down to the base area overnight.

“Once the wild weather passed and the winds died down we were in full snowmaking mode, making about 600 cubic metres of snow in twelve hours on main trails,” he says.

“The first snow is always a huge boost for staff, and there’s a real sense of excitement and anticipation in Queenstown. Keen snowboarders and skiers the length and breadth of the country are all looking forward to another epic season up at Coronet Peak.”

The start of snowmaking signals the start of the season for Coronet Peak’s winter crew.

Falcon's eye view
Falcon’s eye view

For twenty-three-year-old Australian snowmaker Jake Reilly from Coffs Harbour it was his first time seeing or touching snow – let alone making it. His previous job in Australia involved wearing a full Hazmat suit in 40 degree temperatures.

Not surprisingly, Jake said today had been “a complete shock”.

“I’ve wanted to go to the snow for my whole life and now actually being here in Queenstown making snow is incredible.

“When I arrived up the hill today I just looked in awe at the mountain, picked up a handful and had a play – it’s so different to what I’m used to back in Australia!”

Across the valley you can see a nice natural cover building up at the higher Remarkables area.

Happy-Coronet-Peak-snow-making-team-members-Jake-Reilly-(L)-and-Lucy-Ruck-(R)