Around 800 hardy skiers and boarders began arrived on the 8th of June from 5am in the morning to get their coveted first-on-the-lift placing, with the accompanying T-shirt to prove it.
For the third year in a row, local Queenstown kids Cougar Bryant (10) and his sister Tallulah (8) were first in line at Coronet Express Quad, this time joined by younger brother, six-year old Tristan.
Mum Tania was also early enough to share a seat on the first chair lift up the mountain for the 2013 season.
Guests were welcomed by Coronet Peak’s ski area manager Ross Copland who officially marked the start of the Australasian ski season with a spray of Amisfield bubbles. While the younger Bryants missed out on the treat, those first on the lift were all given a complimentary glass to wish them well for the season.
On one of the best opening days in recent memory, a total of around 2,000 people flocked to the slopes. Getting in his first runs among them was 61-year-old Japanese skier Tomoyoki Imada, who holds the record from last season of the most vertical kilometers skied in one season.
“It’s great to finally be here and we’re all absolutely amped about opening on schedule with such fantastic conditions and the season to come,” said an ecstatic Mr Copland. “Everyone’s really enjoying the snow and atmosphere, the car parks have filled up, it couldn’t be better.
“The buildup to today, from the favourable weather conditions to the buzz on social media and “on the street” in Queenstown, has been huge and so we’re thrilled to start on such a high.”
Coronet Peak’s investment and recent software update in a fully-automated high-tech snowmaking system, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, has paid dividends in adding to natural snowfalls over the past two weeks in getting the base of snow ideal for opening day.
“Not only are we first to open, but thanks to the fantastic job by our grooming team we’re doing it with a number of trails operating for all levels of skier and boarder, a full range of facilities, great coffee, braziers blazing on the deck and a fantastic vibe,” said Mr Copland.
“It’s great for Coronet Peak, great for Queenstown, and great for tourism in New Zealand.”
Coronet Peak opened with a 30cm base on the lower slopes and 40cm up top, providing access on the Coronet Express to the main M1 trail, Upper and Lower Wall Street, Mid Gully, Shirtfront and Million Dollar.
The Meadows Express lift also opened for novice and early intermediate skiers and boarders, and carpet lifts accessed the main beginners’ area.