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New Zealand - Central South Island 2018

 Poster: A snowHead
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Mt Hutt opened for 2018 today, had about 50cm of wind affected snow over the last couple of days, on top of a small base of 35cm. It was good up there, not too crowded, sun was out and fairly warm. the weather is looking a bit dodgy for the next few days, so it may end up being closed or with limited lifts. Not much snow in the forecast either for the next week, but it's pretty good for early season.

The rest of the local ski fields will be open over the next 3 weeks or so. They all have a decent base, so looking forward to a few road trips over the next three months.

Here's a few photos from today

Mid towers, from the car park



Looking out to the west, towards the main divide. So much terrain, no easy access.....



Looking East, over the Canterbury Plains, Pacific Ocean in the distance



Car park and top of the access road



The view to the summit from the main chair lift

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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Some decent cover for this time !
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Cheers! Very Happy
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Headed up to Mt Hutt again today. Weather forecast was a bit average, so no crowds, but luckily it turned into a cracking day. The wind and forecast snow stayed away all day, it was unusually warm for the start of winter, so all the frozen up snow from last week started to release, so a lot of the areas off the groomers got really nice. It was great considering how early in the season it is. Now looking like a fair bit of new snow is on the way over the next week.

A few pictures from today

Taken at the ski field boundary, looking over the plains to Banks Peninsula (extinct volcanoes)



The summit



Weather rolling up the valleys from the main divide

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Very nice @hang11,

Planning to visit any of the Canterbury club fields this winter? Would be interesting to see how the likes of Temple Basin/Cragieburn etc fare over the course of the season. Has been a real purple patch for SI with succession of early season polar fronts moving through so all the boats are on the rise.

Meanwhile, the only boat rising in central NI is the waka I'll need to reach my resort... 90mm of rain forecast for Whakapapa the coming week... Shocked I guess thats what the Goretex is for Very Happy the joys of skiing at -39° latitude... Confused
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Loving the pics
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@Skiwi 55, I'll try to get up to some of the clubbies, will upload some pics if I do. Usually only get there if I can make the trip when there's good snow and low crowds. Planning to get up to Olympus and Broken River at the very least, and usually head to Porters, Ohau and Roundhill for a few days over each winter.

Most of the club fields are 3 weeks away from opening, and that's snow dependant. Looking good at this stage but a bit of rain can change all that pretty quickly. I'm a middle aged unfit snowboarder, those rope tows are brutal so these days I only make the effort if it's going to deliver the goods....


Wouldn't worry about early season Ruapehu, you get all the lovely corn in Autumn to make up for it Very Happy
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I’m going to be out in Me Zealand from late July until July next year. Was wondering if there is any end of season type things and where to go for them in September?
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danbrown1961 wrote:
I’m going to be out in Me Zealand from late July until July next year. Was wondering if there is any end of season type things and where to go for them in September?

Sorry New Zealand! Bloody spell check
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That's a decent stint! Each skifield usually has an end of season bash of some sort so you can suit your fancy but it depends where you're based. Mt Ruapehu in the North Island is usually the last resort to close so has a series of events which run into late October. Peak to Powderkeg is considered the traditional closer, a top to bottom race on the southern side of the mountain via ski, bike, run and chugging a beer which is a great day whether participating or at the bar. There are bikini downhills, pond skims and so on at different times in spring, again usually in October. Final dates usually TBC for a few more weeks until they know what kind of season they're up for and how good a snowbase they'll get. @hang11 is right, Ruapehu comes into its own in spring so I'd encourage you to give it a go if you can get to it... 4-5 hours via bus hire car or train from Auckland or Wellington which is not as great an ordeal as driving to the Alps but definitely not on the doorstep ala Mt Hutt (couple hours from Chch) or the Qtown fields.
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@danbrown1961, Winter games is on end of August

https://www.wintergamesnz.kiwi/

I think Queenstown has a gay ski week in September. The whole town is usually a bit of a sausage fest at any time of year however Very Happy

Hutt do a few things, but unless you are really desperate to do a pond skim, wear a retro onesie or Hawaiian shirt it's probably not worth going out of your way for.

Late July through to September is usually the best part of the season on the South Island. I've never been, but spring at Ruapehu is supposed to be really good.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
hang11 wrote:
@danbrown1961, Winter games is on end of August

https://www.wintergamesnz.kiwi/

I think Queenstown has a gay ski week in September. The whole town is usually a bit of a sausage fest at any time of year however Very Happy

Hutt do a few things, but unless you are really desperate to do a pond skim, wear a retro onesie or Hawaiian shirt it's probably not worth going out of your way for.

Late July through to September is usually the best part of the season on the South Island. I've never been, but spring at Ruapehu is supposed to be really good.



Not orientated that way so probably won't go to that. I'm gonna be based in Christchurch most of the time but I have a couple of weeks off in September so just wanted to know whether it was worth travelling somewhere for it
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@danbrown1961, probably best to just chase the best snow out of Chch. You've got plenty of options near to the city- Hutt, Porters, Cheeseman, Olympus, Broken River, Craigieburn, Temple Basin, Fox Peak, Dobson, Ohau, Roundhill.

If you have a couple of weeks off in September, a nice road trip to Wanaka/Queenstown taking in a few of those hills along with a night at Mt Cook would be worth it. The scenery is stunning at that time of year (any time really but looks extra good with plenty of snow about). If there's two of you travelling it's worth getting the disabled snowsports voucher book. Costs about $100 and you get 2 for 1 deals at most ski areas, so can save a fair bit of cash if you are travelling around.

September can start to get a bit fickle with warmer weather and the north westerly winds - once they start to kick in there are lots of closures and rapid snow melt - sometimes it's September, sometimes it's October or November.
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Latest NZ outlook from the Grasshopper is in - in a word - unexciting

http://www.mountainwatch.com/Snow-news/2018-new-zealand-snow-season-outlook-june-update/
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Been pretty good so far Very Happy

IMO a good season is more about being in the right place at the right time than just having loads of big storms come through. Last year had massive snowfalls but was actually a bit average most days because nowhere could open up for ages after the storms came through. Had loads of icy days as a result of that. Last one I can remember that was actually tragic due to lack of snow in Canterbury was 2005. With the good snowmaking that the bigger commercial fields now have, a lot of the risk goes away.

The best days are often the sneaky 20cm ones after a small weather system, tend not to get the hype and the crowds, and the ski fields can open straight away before it all freezes up.

I think Mt Lyford was looking at 1.5m out of the storm that came through over the last couple of days.
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Fair comment @hang11, let your glass be forever half full, and the carparks less so! wink

We'll be in Hanmer Springs and St Arnaud for a short spa break late July, not specifically a snow trip but might add a ski bag if there's powder in the forecast and the CFO signs off. How do the skifields in Upper South fare for access? Yet to find out whether rental companies allow driving on clubfield access roads, from what I've heard of the road to Rainbow, I'm not hopeful Shocked
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@Skiwi 55, don't think you will have a problem with rental cars and access roads - usually loads on them. As far as I know the only roads you can't take rental cars on are skippers canyon and macetown (which is basically a river!). Probably worth trying to rent something with 4wd however.

I heard a story from my neighbour who did tours up skippers about a group of tourists in a rental on the skippers road a few years ago, got scared, tried to turn around, the exhaust started a fire in the scrub, and they ended up having to pay for a replacement for the burned out rental car and the cost of a few choppers worth of monsoon buckets to be delivered up there....


The roads are fine as long as you don't crash Very Happy

I've been over the edge of the Lyford road before Very Happy It collapsed under my truck as I was going round a corner. Had to climb out the window and get the dozer to pull it back up.

Lyford is a great hill, close to Hanmer. Never been to Rainbow or the Hanmer hill.
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Went up for the morning today. Busy and definitely needing a bit more snow. Crazy windy at times as well. Had a good time, but surprised at the crowds this early in the season.
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Any updates on snow level?
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Yes went up to Hutt yesterday had about 10cm overnight which froze up and closed the lifts for most of the day. Good base building snow and groomers were good, off trail not worth it.

Just had a text from my daughter who is up there all week and she says another 10cm last night and dry and light.

Looking at the charts we could be looking at a good storm next week.

Basically it’s pretty good from a base perspective, groomers are consistently good, and set up quite nicely for off trail when a storm comes through. Nothing else up this way open yet.
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Once Hutt gets a metre base it’s pretty much wall to wall in terms of rock coverage, sitting on 86cm upper mountain base according to today’s report. Anything over a metre doesn’t make a whole lot of difference although obviously nice to have. Last year it was up to about 3.5m by mid July.
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Looking great today. South face open, wall to wall coverage and nice hero snow Very Happy
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Very nice @hang11,

Looks like a decent storm rolling through next couple of days, half a metre or more for everyone North and South. Could provide enough cover for you for the duration of the season by the sounds. Up north we'll need a couple metres at least to recoup the damage done by last week's monsoon but this front will help a lot.
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Got up to Hutt today. Dobson, Porters and Lyford opened this weekend. There was a nice top up of snow during the week, and cold temperatures have kept the snow in great condition and topped up with snowmaking. Starting to get a bit busier now, definitely a few Ozzie accents around, and school holidays starting next weekend, so need to be up there early to get a car park. Still no big storms, but it's early season and July usually delivers.

Conditions have been great for the time of year.

Moon setting over the Canterbury Plains and Pacific Ocean. About 7.30am



Morning access road rush hour



First light on the hill



Lunch spot



Fisheye shot of the whole ski area from the boundary

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Great pics & reports (as the UK bakes in a 25-30+C heatwave that looks set to last...)

NZ is definitely on our to do list Cool
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Looking forward to arriving on the 8th of July for 5 weeks. Mount Hutt probably the most accessible for us.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Any tips for reducing costs? The advertised lift passes & rental prices seems pretty expensive.
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@McKenzie, Get a season pass. About $750 now I think, so breaks even in 7 days or $1,000 for the 3 peaks pass which gives you the two Queenstown areas as well. The usual way to do it is to get the early bird rates at $350, but that deal finished at the end of March.

If you are travelling around a bit, then you can get the disabled snowsports voucher book which gets you 2 4 1 pass deals at loads of the smaller fields. Don't think that covers Hutt though, but it's a great deal (and great cause to support)

http://www.dsc.org.nz/bargain-booklets/

Wouldn't rent gear if you are planning more than a few days. Lots of places in Christchurch sell gear cheap - either euro ex rental or new. Best places to look are

www.completeoutdoors.co.nz
www.torpedo7.co.nz
www.snowride.co.nz
www.snowmania.co.nz

Lots of second hand gear on www.trademe.co.nz which is a bit like ebay and you can sell stuff on there when you leave.

I think big Al's or Alpine sports in Methven might do long term season rental deals as well.
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@hang11, Thank you very much indeed for your comprehensive reply. As we're a family of 4 with travelling/touring in a rental car with all our luggage the very sensible option of buying secondhand wouldn't work & the skiing is just part of what we're doing during the trip, although I am taking my ski boots. I imagine we'll probably ski for 5-7 days over the 5 weeks at a variety of ski areas in the south island with our main bases being Nelson & Christchurch as that's where family are. I'll be having a very careful look at the disabled snowsports vouchers, especially for when we're around Nelson as it does look like Mt. Hutt is excluded. That's a great early bird deal for Mt. Hutt. The cheaper I can make it the more we can do!

I'm curious to see how Christchurch has changed since the earthquake (I lived & worked there for a couple of years in the late 1980's).

Thanks,

J
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@McKenzie, Christchurch is still buggered Very Happy I think it will be another 15 years before the after effects of the earthquakes have disappeared.

The disabled books are probably the best option for you if you're travelling round, but worth thinking about the lifts at some of the club fields - rope tows so need some confidence to get on with them.

www.chillout.co.nz has a good guide to the smaller canterbury fields. The smaller fields sometimes do discounted mid week days, usually advertised on Facebook. www.grabone.co.nz have some cheap deals on Mt Cheeseman passes at the moment.

Could be worth checking out Rainbow, Lyford, Cheeseman, Porters and Dobson, they all have chair lifts/T Bars and do good deals on passes. Never been to Rainbow, but can vouch for the rest, all great fun on a good day.

If you need to rent gear, the mountain rental shops are more expensive. Loads of options to rent gear in Christchurch, and there's places in Fairlie, Darfieild and Methven as well.

I don't like paying full price Very Happy
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I have been keeping an eye on Rainbow as when we're in Nelson we'll be with another family that haven't skied but are interested in trying it.

My memory of Mount Hutt is that it was much warmer than I was used to skiing in & I seem to remember skiing in a t-shirt, rarely an option in Scotland!

Do get in touch if you find yourself anywhere near Scotland & want to ski.
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Awesome - Went to Scotland a few years ago and had a great time fly fishing. Was just like home.

Sure you will have a great time - best time of the year to visit the South Island.
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Hi,

Going to arrive on the 19th of July into Auckland and then flying down to Christchurch on the 22nd and am going to be around for the whole season. This is why I am planning to invest in a pair of boots for when I am out there. Do any of you guys have any recommendations in either Auckland or Christchurch to get boots? The main problem is I'm a UK13 which is about 31/32 in ski boot size.

Dan
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Christchurch probably has more shops and they are all fairly close.

Not a complete list, but Torpedo7, Snowride, snow and surf, X-Ten, McEwings, snowmania, and further afield Gnomes (Darfield), Big Als and Alpine Sports (Methven).

T7 are a nationwide chain, so likely to have a more stock - you can see what sizes are in stock on their website. They have boot fitters at the Christchurch shop.

Saying all that, I would recommend bringing boots to NZ if possible, they aren't cheap, not much is in NZ. I picked my boots up in the UK for 130 quid v $600 in NZ.
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I was surprised to hear that Torpedo 7 has boot fitting staff as I had trouble finding any staff at all in it! Although that was in Auckland.

If looking in Auckland you could try the Ski Trading post (http://www.skitradingpost.co.nz/). Its a little out of the city but they have been around for a while and are a good bunch. We have bought clothes, rented and bought skis and had them serviced, but not boots. They used to do kid boot rentals for the season, which could be an option but not sure of they do adults. Given them a call and speak to Andrew, the boss.

In Auckland city there is the Snow Centre in Newmarket, they also do second hand gear which can help with costs.

Queenstown likely has more options. I think Browns is based there and I bought boots at their now defunct Auckland shop many years ago.

But I would echo the above on price (likely high) and choice (likely limited).
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With the current weather and lack of any decent snowfalls on the horizon, it might be worth bringing ice climbing gear instead of ski gear Very Happy

The weather is more like spring at the moment.
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Big puke at Treble Cone.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1807/S00108/huge-snow-dump-delivers-epic-powder-day-at-treble-cone.htm
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Arrived today in Hanmer Springs having flown into Nelson and driven down via SH6/65/7, lovely town, amazing the rain shadow effect from further west, was hosing down in Murchison and Maruia but a hop skip jump east of the Lewis Pass and the road was dry and skies were clear. Glorious drive, wild West Coast weather aside! Looking forward to some hot spring soakage tomorrow with Miniskiwi and CFO.
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We're staying in Nelson for 3 weeks & had a brilliant day at Rainbow Ski Area yesterday. Lovely drive, very reasonable weather & extremely friendly, helpful & welcoming staff. It especially impressed the beginners in our group & we'll be back for more next week.
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Hutt was great this morning until the weather packed in at lunchtime.

Possibly a decent amount of snow coming towards the end of this week.
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