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Mt Hutt snow conditions '10 out of 10' on first day

Published: 11:59AM Saturday June 09, 2012 Source: ONE News

Skiers and snowboarders taking advantage of the cold snap hitting the country gave today's on-trail snow conditions on Mt Hutt a "10 out of 10".

Nearly 2500 skiers and boarders hit South Island mountain slopes for the official start of this year's ski season this morning.

Queenstown's Coronet Peak and Canterbury's Mt Hutt opened jointly for the first time today, with the latter getting over a metre of snow in the past week.

Mt Hutt ski area manager James McKenzie said he had spoken to a lot of guests "unanimously saying the conditions are fantastic".

"On-trail conditions are 10 out of 10, with Morning Glory, Fascination and Broadway in primo condition."

Around 200 keen skiers and boarders arrived at Coronet Peak at 4.30am in a snowstorm. And numbers rose to around 1000 for the day.

Mt Hutt's numbers rose to around 1400.

Nine-year-old Cougar Bryant, and his seven-year-old sister Talleulah were first in line for the start of the season, along with Alex de Kort, 19, from Queenstown and Hugo Cribbin, 22, from Hong Kong.

Coronet Peak ski area manager Hamish McCrostie said: "We're absolutely ecstatic to be open.

"Conditions are fantastic and people are just blown away with what we've been able to provide, reaping the rewards of the largest, fully-automated high tech snowmaking system in the Southern Hemisphere."

McCrostie said the Peak had received about 20 centimetres of natural snow in the build-up to opening but has been able to open with a 35 centimetres average base thanks to machine snow and the five centimetres that fell at 4am this morning.

"It's great for Coronet Peak, great for Queenstown, and great for tourism in New Zealand."

NZSki CEO James Coddington said it was a "very proud moment" to see a huge team effort result in Coronet Peak and Canterbury's Mt Hutt open on the same day on schedule.

"It's the culmination of a huge effort between two mountains, and 14 departments on each mountain, to officially open together.

He said it was the first time a joint opening had been planned.

"And everybody's given 100% to come together to achieve everything according to plan, even though it's stretched our resources to the limit.

"Mt Hutt has been blessed with the snow, and Coronet Peak has been blessed with the cold temperatures."

The Remarkables ski area in Queenstown is scheduled to open on June 16.