Coronet Peak Express opens snowmaking saving the day

The new Coronet Peak Express opened today, crazy Christchurch local Brendan Lindsay today became the first person to claim the First-on-the-Chair title for all three mountains in a row with the opening of the new Coronet Express chairlift today.

Brass monkeys weather didn’t deter Brendan Lindsay from claiming 3 lift first chairs ©

Lindsay, who made the mad dash to Queenstown last night to claim the first spot on the chairlift, was welcomed by Coronet Peak ski area manager Nigel Kerr with applause, bubbles and his third coveted t-shirt for his efforts before taking a ride on the brand new, $20 million high-speed chair lift.

Spending the night on the on the mountain next to the chairlift to secure the first spot in the line, Lindsay was able to complete the trifecta at Coronet Peak, having gone to the same effort for Mt Hutt on June 7, then The Remarkables on June 8.

Snowmaking is saving the day in NZ and OZ at the moment ©

“It was a crazy idea that my wife didn’t believe I would follow through. I told her last year that I was going to be first on the chair at all three mountains and she said, ‘No, you won’t do that’. I said, ‘I’m serious’. I spent last night next to the chairlift – I didn’t sleep. I just moved around a lot to keep warm and watched TV shows on my phone.”

Lindsay was gifted a one-off 3 Peak Pass for 2020 from the Coronet Peak team in recognition of him being the first to complete such a feat.

Cold temperatures this week have enabled snowmaking to open the highly anticipated Coronet Express chair, which can take 2600 passengers per hour, at an average of four minutes from the base building to the top of the chairlift.  

The new chairlift is a Leitner Telemix, comprising traditional chairs as well as gondola cabins. Gondola cabins will be added to the line in time for summer operations, starting on December 1. 

“As planned for 2019, we commissioned Coronet Express as a chairlift only, because in winter it is primarily a ski lift,” Kerr says.

“We’re very impressed with how the chair is operating and the addition of automated underground chair and gondola parking is going to streamline start-ups and eliminate the stoppages we had on the old Coronet Peak Express when the line and grips got icy.  It’s also so much better and easier for our maintenance team to operate.”

Menawhile, The Remarkables opened the Shadow chairlift today, with skiing now available on groomed trails and all lifts open. Off-trail skiing will be signposted and for experts only.

“We’re expanding terrain as the snow falls,” The Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence says.  “We’ve had 20cm in the last 48hours and the cold temperatures are forecast to continue with more snow hopefully over the weekend. Mother Nature’s been kind to us at The Remarkables and we’re excited to be getting all lifts operating.”

Across the valley The Remarkables has all lifts open, best to stick to areas with snowmaking for now ©