Slow Start To 2021 New Zealand Ski Season

It’s been a slow start to the 2021 New Zealand snow season.

Only Mt Hutt is properly open with decent terrain available, running from the base to the summit with their new 8 seat express and the 6 seat express both open. They kicked things off with a record opening day.

Little Ski Hanmer north of Christchurch fired up for a couple of days, even beating Hutt to be first open, but soon had to close.

Overall the picture is pretty bleak as the MetService New Zealand report shows. They show Mt Dobson as on hold, but this is an error – Dobson are aiming for a 2nd July opening.

Ski Field operating status New Zealand 16/06/21
Not much joy today for NZ skiers © MetService New Zealand

In the North Island Whakapapa have done their usual great job to get the Happy Valley beginner slope open. But the main runs there and at neighbouring Turoa remain closed pending more snow – which is normal for this time of year.

Ruapehu always needs a fair bit of snow to cover the volcanic rocks, but once they get it the season kicks on for the best late lift-accessed skiing in Australasia. It’s also the best value at just $NZD 74 for midweek lift passes.

In the key Southern Lakes region Coronet Peak and Cardrona have both postponed opening – which was originally scheduled for last weekend.

Coronet looks highly unlikely to open this weekend either. They are pinning their hopes on bigger snowfalls later next week to fire things up. They only have tussock grass to cover so it is amazing how quickly it turns around.

It has been too warm to make enough snow, with not much natural snow fall yet either. There’s a little bit forecast this week, but not enough to make much difference.

The chances of Coronet Peak opening this weekend look slim – webcam base view16/06/21

Cardrona is a bit higher, but it’s not looking too flash there either, and they are also unlikely to open yet.

The Remarkables and Treble Cone need more snow to fill things in, and don’t normally open till the end of June anyway.

If you are locked into flights to Queenstown in the next few days best grab a car and head north to Mt Hutt or you are likely to miss out.

Hopefully by late next week things will improve.

Cardrona base webcam this morning 16/06/21

Meanwhile Australia celebrated a big opening LWE with big crowds at Perisher and good early snow conditions on offer there and at Thredbo, Hotham and Falls Creek. Buller got Bourke street open, with only Baw Baw suffering too much to open from the record rainfall event there.

More light snow up high with rain lower and some snowmaking opportunities should allow more terrain to open up.

As the LWE crowds at Perisher showed, the pent up demand is such that more terrain is urgently needed.

Snow Action’s local contributors found Thredbo to be much quieter – hardly any queues on the weekend – and there is plenty of lift pass availability.