Dust off your skis and head for the hills – the Waitaki district’s skifields are on track to open in the next month.
But winter for the east coast of the South Island is expected to be warmer than average, Niwa National Climate Centre forecaster Ben Noll says.
“There is a bit of a split in the South Island this year, with the west looking like it will see above-average rainfall, and the east average or below average,” Mr Noll said.
“It will be a matter of how much of that western rainfall makes it over the divide.”
Awakino Ski Field and Ohau Snow Fields both reported a good dump of snow over Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Mr Noll said the Waitaki skifields could expect another reasonable top-up of snow in the coming weeks, although a warmer winter could mean these are not as frequent as in recent years.
“The last few weeks have been very active; we have had wind, rain, snow – [but] that looks like it will quieten down over the next few weeks.
“In short, our models would suggest this year there will be some cold snaps to support snow, but maybe it doesn’t hang around for as long.”
Awakino Ski Field secretary David Campbell said the Kurow field had a big base of snow and he was confident it would be open by mid-July.
“There is about 20-30cm around. We are just waiting on a few more falls,” Mr Campbell said.
A lot of work had been done over the off season, including a new kitchen for the lodge and a “decent lot” of roadworks to improve skifield access.
Ohau Snow Fields owner-operator Mike Neilson said the field was due to open on June 29 and staff had been “flat out” making snow after Mother Nature delivered a dose over Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Bookings for the 2019 season were good, Mr Neilson said.