New Zealand 2011 snow season started

Written on Monday, 27 June 2011 by NZTravelInsider

Learn whether snow has already started to fall in New Zealand, and whether ski fields have already opened.

According to the weather experts, the winter season is approximately 2 weeks late, but has finally arrived.

I’ve noticed many visitors of New Zealand Travel Insider looking for information on whether and when the ski fields in New Zealand have opened or are opening, and whether snow has already started falling in New Zealand and especially Queenstown.

So here’s an update…

Where Queenstown is concerned, the Queenstown winter festival started with the mountains closed. And until the day of today (27 June 2011), there isn’t much snow on the mountains. Needless to say, the snow season had a slow start this year.

On the other hand, the first ski field has already opened; Mount Hutt ski field was the first to open this year. And tomorrow (28 June 2011), Turoa ski field is scheduled to open. If you do not know where these ski fields are located, have a look at the New Zealand ski fields map.

The temperatures are still quite high and there has been rain, but also lots of good weather, so the snow that is currently on the ski fields that are open or are scheduled to open is mostly artificial man-made snow. The ski fields around Queenstown (Coronet Peak and the Remarkables) have gotten just a few cm of snow.

A polar blast is expected to hit New Zealand in the next few days, so that should help add a bit more snow on the mountains. In any case, if there is any noteworthy news about the snow, I’ll make sure to add it to this article to keep you updated about how nature is evolving this winter season.

Update (June 29, 2011):
Coronet Peak, after 3 days of snow-making, is scheduled to open tomorrow morning (30 June). The snow is still thin, so while the ski field will be open, it won’t be operating at full capacity.

Conditions are still good for snow-making, but the weather is still good, so no snow is expected to fall in the next few days.

In addition, there is currently an ash cloud (from the Chilean volcano) that is moving up over the South Island, so flights to and from some hubs on the South Island (Queenstown and Christchurch) have been cancelled. Air New Zealand is the only airline that continues to fly despite other airlines (Jet Star and Quantas) cancelling their flights. So if you are flying in from Australia to either Christchurch or Queenstown, check with your airline.

Update (July 8, 2011):
The first significant amount of snow fell in Naseby (Central Otago) today. The road was also closed until 11 a.m. before it was cleared, but it remained icy. The long anticipated winter has finally arrived!

Cardrona ski field near Queenstown also got a good amount of snow (15 cm / 6 inches) and more snow is expected to fall to lower levels (down to 500 meters) in the coming days and week.

Update (July 12, 2011):
Lots of snow fell today on the South Island, so much so that parts of several highways were closed (namely State Highway 80, 8, and 94). For the latest road closure updates and closed roads, check AA RoadWatch.

Some roads up to ski fields were also closed. In addition, snow fell to the ground in Queenstown! What a difference a couple of weeks can make! Just a few weeks ago there was no snow; now there is heaps of snow!

Update (July 24, 2011):
The South Island got a heavy dumping of snow today as a polar blast moved over the country. Queenstown airport and a couple of roads were closed for a period of time.

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