Snow Report 23 July 2013 - Australia & New Zealand


Well, that didn't quite go to plan! I decided to hold off this week's snow report until the conditions had improved, and thankfully they have now. Last Thursday things were very gloomy indeed across the Australian ski resorts. Rain and warm winds created havoc and the inclement weather stayed around a little longer than anticipated.

Fortunately, Saturday saw temperatures drop nicely and good, heavy snowfalls across the Australian mountain ranges. Between 50 and 75cms has fallen since then, to low levels at times, with a few more snow showers still persisting. The resorts have regained the winter wonderland look that was lost at the end of last week.

Falls Creek 23 July 2013 [Source: Falls Creek FP page]
There are no significant snowfalls in the current forecasts, which is a shame as we need another quick follow-up to build on what we have regained over the weekend. Things can change, however, and forecasts always do!

Mt Hotham
Natural Snow Depth: 48cms
A combination of wind and a lack of snow left Hotham with almost no lifts running late last week. The weekend snowfalls have brought Heavenly Valley back into business, so we're back where we were a few weeks ago but with nicer snow all around the resort.

Falls Creek
Natural Snow Depth: 71cms
Falls did particularly well from the recent snowfalls and has reopened areas like Ruined Castle that had to close last week. The Summit lift has also reopened for some advanced skiing, and the resort is ski-in/ski-out for now.

Mt Buller
Natural Snow Depth: 31cms
Mt Perisher 23 July 2013 [Source: Perisher FB page]
The Summit has reopened after the recent snowfalls, but Howqua is not running and Family Run is yet to reopen. Little Buller/Wombat and Shakey Knees provide the only other intermediate skiing and riding at Buller.

Natural Snow Depth: Approx 50-70cms
42/47 lifts at Perisher and good conditions across the resort. Mt Perisher looks particularly good on the cams.

Natural Snow Depth: Approx 30-70cms


Sunny conditions have persisted in New Zealand and there has been a run of mild, clear days. Great for skiing and riding under clear skies, but you do need top-ups of snow when its mild or you lose your snow base.

All skifields are now losing a bit of snow, but the weather is due to turn cooler today. Snowfalls are more likely in Canterbury than the Southern Lakes this week.

Like Australia, not a lot of snow in the forecast, but hopefully that changes as the week goes on.

Ohau 22 July 2013 [Source: Ohau FB page]
North Canterbury and Nelson

Rainbow has really struggled this year and is currently closed (40/15cms). Hanmer Springs (97cms) has now fixed its poma (one of two main lifts) and is looking to make the most of its typically short season. Mt Lyford - further east near Kaikoura, has 190cms and full snow cover.


Porters (160/40cms) in the unseasonably warm weather has lost a lot of snow in the last week since its opening but there is still great snow cover up high.

Mt Hutt (360/320cms) still has great cover but the news that the triple chair won't be fixed this year is disappointing as that particular skilift opens up much of the more interesting terrain at Mt Hutt. Kudos to nzski.com for thinking about how to open that terrain through the use of shuttles to take skiers and riders back to the base.

The Mackenzie

Treble Cone 22 July 2013 [Source: Treble Cone FB page]
Ohau (90/55cms) has lost a lot of snow since last week and off-piste is firm to start, while Roundhill (80cms) is still looking good for those staying around Lake Tekapo. Mt Dobson (100cms) will need some care off-piste at 1m.


Treble Cone (275/5cms) has got fantastic cover in the Saddle Basin, while the lower-altitude Home Basin is looking even more sketchy and tussocky down the bottom compared to last week. A top-up is needed and will surely come soon. Cardrona (120/45cms) is still skiing nicely thanks to its higher altitude.


Coronet Peak (80/40cms) has fired up its snowmaking where possible to combat the spring conditions. Solid mornings are the go around the Queenstown area in these conditions at both CP and The Remarkables (120/80cms).


Aerial View of the Southern Alps of New Zealand

Image 1
On a recent short trip to the South Island of New Zealand we were fortunate enough to fly out of pretty Queenstown on a glorious, clear, sunny day, scoring a magnificent view of the snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps all the way up the spine of the South Island.

Image 1 - Queenstown airport from the road to The Remarkables skifield

After a brilliant morning's skiing at The Remarkables we changed clothes, packed the suitcases, and drove down the long, gravel road to Queenstown Airport.

The location of the airport at Queenstown is very special, at the end of the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu. What a fantastic setting!

Image 2
In this image, you can see the snow on Ben Lomond above the forested slopes that lead down to Queenstown proper.

The Air New Zealand plane taxied from the tiny terminal to the end of the runway, then took off heading up and over the lake, then made a sharp left.

Image 2 - Lochy River Valley

Here we are heading south towards Kingston and Invercargill and climbing rapidly to gain altitude above the snowy mountains that surround Queenstown.

Our flight plan took us down the Kingston Arm of the stunning Lake Wakatipu.

This picture shows the Lochy River valley, I think.

Image 3
A series of banked turns - bringingwows from the passengers with window seats - then brought us up and around and then we headed back towards Queenstown again. Just to say goodbye!

Image 3 - Lake Wakatipu

Banking and climbing, I have an incredible view from my window seat of the climb out of Queenstown.

This is an airport that, as you might imagine, offers quite a few challenges with the mountains all around. Much easier on a clear day like this, no doubt. Quite a bit of our flight time to Auckland is taken up by the ascent.

As we turn northwards we again see the arm of magnificent Lake Wakatipu. Behind and above the lake is The Remarkables mountain range.

Image 4
Image 4 - The Remarkables

Its a classic tourist picture for anyone who visits Queenstown - The Remarkables range.

Here is an image of that iconic range from an altitude of 5,000m or more.

The key summit in the range is called Double Cone, just left of centre in this picture.

A line of small unmoving clouds form a smoky necklace at the front of the range.

If you look carefully, at the left of the range, you can just make out where the skifield rests within a series of bowls. Those bowls can offer good protection from the winds.

Image 5 - The Remarkables Skifield

Image 5
It has been a great early season at The Remarkables skifield for skiing and riding. These pictures were taken a few weeks ago, in early July.

The skifield itself sits at a high altitude - the base area and car park is at 1600m. This means there is typically snow well into October at The Remarkables.

Looking at images 4 and 5 you get a good idea of where you're skiing, compared to what you're looking at apres-ski from your accommodation in Queenstown.

The access road winds up the mountain range but becomes quite straight as it gets closer to the base station. You can see it in the centre of this picture along with the car parks and base area. Try and make out the lift lines.

Image 6
If you can make out the car park you can see one bowl to the northwest - Sugar Bowl; and one to the east - Shadow Basin. Both of these offer a great range of skiing and riding options.

North of Shadow Basin you can make out an icy Lake Alta; and to the south the bowl that makes up the Homeward Runs.

Image 6 - Cardrona Valley

From The Remarkables, we then fly over Coronet Peak skifield and the lovely historic Arrowtown and then rise high above the Crown Range.

From my window I spy the Cardrona Valley and the Cardrona skifield. We'd been skiing here a few days before in great conditions.

The road winding through the valley links bustling and cosmopolitan Queenstown to the beautiful, adventure town of Wanaka. Its about an hour and a bit's drive between the two towns, and what an incredible drive it is when there is so much snow around.

Image 7 - Wanaka
Image 7

As we fly over Treble Cone skifield and Lake Wanaka I get a good view of the township. Zooming in you can see how the lake dominates.

We had been staying here for our whole trip, in a cosy cottage beneath Mt Iron, a sizable hill with good walking tracks just outside the township.

Wanaka is one of my favourite places to be just about anywhere ... lets hope we can return very soon!

Image 8 - Lake Tekapo

As we continue to fly NNE up the South Island, I am riveted to the views parading like a movie outside the window, a snowy panorama from up high.

Image 8
Next I can make out the Ben Ohau range, but not the Ohau skifield that sits tucked in on the side facing away from me.

That means we're crossing the Mackenzie District and those great two azure-blue lakes come into view from on high.

First Lake Pukaki, then Lake Tekapo comes into view.

Lake Tekapo is towards the top of this picture, with the alpine village on its eastern tip (try and make out the little wooded areas surrounding the town).

The range beyond is the Two Thumb Range, with Mount Dobson skifield visible centre right and Roundhill further left.

Image 9 - Mt Cook

As we continue northwards, Mt Cook (New Zealand's highest mountain) comes into view.

Image 9
I can make out the glaciers bottom left - don't they look incredible.

This means we must be over the ocean now and I'm looking east across the Southern Alps and can even make out the Pacific Ocean.

As we continue up the coast I can see the ranges around Mt Hutt, and later we spot the mountains around the Nelson Lakes, home to Rainbow skifield.

Thats a lot of skifields spied from one 30-minute plane trip! But what a brilliant range of mountains in this very special place.


Snow Report 13 July 2013 - Australia & New Zealand


Here we are into peak season 2013 with the Aussie school holidays drawing to a close. Some good snow a week ago helped the Victorian and NSW ski resorts to open more lifts and terrain for skiers and riders to enjoy.

After warm temperatures and some rain at first, the latter half of the coming week is looking good for some serious snowfalls. Hopefully that will continue into August and push the snow depths above the one-metre mark.
Falls Creek 12 July 2013 [Source: Falls Creek FB page]

Mt Hotham
Natural Snow Depth: 44cms
Hotham has done well getting Heavenly Valley open as this great terrain provides a significant draw to the mountain. As of today, the Summit and Big D areas above the road are open. Below the road there is skiing on the Village loop and Heavenly Valley.

Falls Creek
Natural Snow Depth: 53cms
Falls always does well when the snow depths aren't great. The recent storm cycle brought the whole of the back of Falls open with its large amount of intermediate terrain from Drovers Dream to Ruined Castle. They've also opened up the Summit, but the snow is patchy in the bowl.

Perisher 13 July 2013 [Source: perisher.com.au]
Mt Buller
Natural Snow Depth: 29cms
The snowfalls last week at Mt Buller enabled the Summit/Howqua areas to open, adding to the intermediate runs around Wombat.

Natural Snow Depth: Approx 50cms
Perisher now has extensive terrain open with 42 of 47 lifts spinning this weekend. Conditions look pretty damn good on the cams!

Natural Snow Depth: Approx 20-70cms
Just about all the lifts are now open at Thredbo and the snow cover improves as you get higher up the mountain.

Treble Cone 9 July 2013

Conditions have been fantastic in the South Island of New Zealand during the past week and all of the skifields have now opened. I've just been over there to experience it and it is with some sadness that I'm back on this side of the ditch!

The pictures below were taken at the skifields around Wanaka over the last week.

It started off very windy and warm at the end of last week, with rain affecting most skifields. By last Sunday the winds changed and it cooled. The snowline fell progressively from above 1500m, down to about 700m. Winds eased off during this past week and there were some glorious recent sunny days.

Some snow showers are forecast over the next few days, then a return to fine conditions.

Captains @ Cardrona 8 July 2013
North Canterbury and Nelson

Rainbow - Up in the beautiful Nelson Lakes is Rainbow skifield, a field run by volunteers and now open with 40/15cms. Hanmer Springs (92cms) has a skifield close to the hot springs town which opened on the 4th July. Mt Lyford - further east near Kaikoura, has 160cms and full snow cover.


Porters (200/100cms) finally celebrated its opening day after completing work following the avalanche incident of late June. The ski area has magnificent cover following weeks of storms and snowfalls. Wind closures dogged Mt Hutt (350/310cms) during the recent storm, but things cleared up for some fantastic skiing during this past week. The triple chair, which was damaged during control work weeks back, is still not operational. Lets hope it comes back online soon.

Valley View @ Cardrona 8 July 2013
The Mackenzie

Ohau (160/80cms) is reporting great skiing on and off-piste, while Roundhill (80cms) is looking like it has good cover on the cams. Mt Dobson (100cms) lost some snow in the warmer weather but is still looking good for so early in July.


Treble Cone (300/20cms) has been skiing brilliantly this week. The Saddle Basin got a good fall of snow even while the temps were warm, and the later top-up was more than welcome in the Home Basin which had little cover at the bottom a week ago.

Once the avalanche control work was completed last weekend, the Saddle was skiing beautifully with dry, winter snow off-piste. Lovely turns everywhere! The Motatapu Chutes (seen from picture above) opened on 9 July and the Home Basin was skiing well off-piste almost to the base (1260m).

Shadow Basin @ The Remarkables 10 July 2013
Cardrona (125/45cms) got a good top-up of snow last weekend, right down almost to the bottom of the gorgeous valley it presides over. It was very windy on the days I was there, and the powder was variable and somewhat wind-affected at times.

Monday 8 July was a great day as the sun came out and the wind eased, and not least thanks to another top-up of dry snow the previous day.

Skied the Valley View area for the first time, both on and off-piste. Its quite gentle terrain, but makes for some fun variation down to 1260m, and Tailrace is a cracking wide run for some fast GS turns! Otherwise, riding around Arcadia/Powderkeg and in the Captains Basin was great fun over multiple visits to lovely Cardies.


Homeward Runs @ The Remarkables 10 July 2013
Coronet Peak (90/50cms), being lower, lost almost all its off-piste in the warm, windy weather last weekend. Fortunately it got it all back naturally when the snow level lowered, and supplemented it further with its massive snowmaking system in the following cold spell.

The Remarkables (130/90cms) did very well out of the storm and is skiing incredibly this early in the season. We don't usually get here until late Spring, so this was a treat to find the place in such good nick.

I managed to get a run in on Homeward for the first time and I have to say that was a highlight of the short visit last week! What an incredible experience, even after enjoying the dry, winter snow in the Shadow Basin all morning. I was buzzing in the shuttle that takes you back from the bottom of this huge, wide bowl.


Snow Report 1 July 2013 - Australia & New Zealand


Clear, cold days provided more opportunities for snowmaking in Australia last week as the lack of moisture over the mountains continued during this dry winter continued. The last few days have been too warm, however, with temperatures above zero during the day and night at most resorts.

The school holidays have started with little natural snow on the ground. There has been little improvement in snow cover since last week. This is frustrating, but I think there will be a good bit of snow falling by the end of this week. I hope so, as we have a long way to go to catch up to the metre of snow we had at this time last year. Maybe this year will bring a good late season, similar to New Zealand last year.

Perisher 1 July 2013 [Source: Perisher Webcam]
Mt Hotham
Natural Snow Depth: 8cms
Hotham is struggling to provide much skiing with only Summit Trainer, Sun Run and Big D open.

Falls Creek
Natural Snow Depth: 0cms
Drovers Dream lift opened this week, adding some fun skiing to the existing runs open - Main Street and Wombats Ramble.

Mt Buller
Natural Snow Depth: 0cms
Mt Buller has done really well to keep Bourke Street/Baldy, Wombat/Little Buller and Shakey Knees open. Snow is desperately needed and should come at the weekend.

Natural Snow Depth: Approx 10cms
Towers on Mt Perisher opened at the weekend which added to the open runs. Just managing to show a bit of natural snow cover.

Natural Snow Depth: 0-41cms
High Noon and the beginners area at Friday Flat are now open. Limited skiing on groomed runs early this week.

Hanmer Springs 1 July 2013  [Source: Hanmer Springs FB page]

A great week and weekend for all the skifields that were operating this early in the season. Winds picked up on Monday and have forced some closures at some resorts.

Gale-force winds are forecast throughout this week and this will make things difficult for those skifields working on getting things up and running.

The strong northwesterlies will also bring very large amounts of snow above 1500m to skifields across the South Island this week.

North Canterbury and Nelson

Rainbow - Rainbow skifield is due to open on Saturday 6th July. Hanmer Springs says it is now looking to open on Friday 5th July. The staff have been up and about preparing the skifield. Mt Lyford opened on the weekend with an average base of 2m.


Porters 30 June 2013 [Source: skiporters.co.nz]
Porters has continued to work on opening since the avalanche incident, delayed now since 21st June. Mt Hutt (340/300cms) had a great week, but increasing winds today forced it to close. Looks likely more closures will follow this week with the winds forecasted.

The Mackenzie

Ohau (160/120cms) opened on the weekend, but closed on Monday due to winds. Roundhill is due to open 6 July with 1.5 metres. Mt Dobson (180cms) opened for one day on Saturday 29 June, but closed due to winds. Reopens 6 July.


Treble Cone (200/94cms) opened on 27th June with more than 2m in the Saddle Basin. Looks set to get a metre or more of snow up high in the next 5 days. Cardrona opened Valley View Quad on the weekend (125/65cms).


Coronet Peak (105/65cms) and The Remarkables (110/75cms).