Great snow and a fun, relaxed atmosphere added up to a superb day out for around 2,000 skiers and snowboarders enjoying opening day at Queenstown’s The Remarkables ski area today (Saturday June 18).
The renowned alpine playground boasted smooth groomed trails and a choice of off-piste terrain for everyone, from toddlers taking their first tentative steps on snow to true-blue locals returning to their favourite ski area.
And the ski area had more than one reason to celebrate – it’s stunning new base building designed by Michael Wyatt took out the prestigious Tourism and Leisure Property Award on Friday night at the Property Council of New Zealand awards in Auckland.
Queueing up for ‘First on the Chair’ T-shirts at the Curvey Basin lift were some familiar faces. Angelique Vinnedge from Canada wasn’t content with bagging a ‘First on the Chair’ T from Coronet Peak last weekend, so made it two in a row with her Remarkables First on Chair T.
Her boyfriend – Queenstown local Jesse James Johnston – was alongside her to claim his shirt, along with friends Morgan Harteveld and Josh Martin who queued from 3.15am. Queenstown brother and sister Jamie (10) and Hannah (12) Gaboda were there for the second year in a row, arriving at 5.30 and “hanging out near a heater” to keep warm.
Angelique Vinnedge from Canada with her Remarkables and Coronet Peak ‘First on the Chair’ T-shirts
The first 100 waiting for the lifts to start running were treated to free breakfast baps delivered to them in the queue by ski area staff, and as the gates opened at Curvey Basin, bursts of bright green confetti added a fun element to the day.
Catching his breath after his first run, Harteveld described the snow as “awesome”.
“It’s always well worth getting up for first tracks at The Remarkables; I’d rather be here than anywhere else in the world,” he added.
Footage of the gates opening and first skiers and boarders coming down from the top of Curvey Basin was screened live to The Remarkables’ Facebook page, as a drone flew the length of the chair to capture those first moments. The live screening has been viewed by thousands of people tuning in to be part of the excitement of opening day.
Ski area manager Ross Lawrence said opening day had been a huge success.
“What an awesome mix of locals, families, first timers and even a few of our favourite Aussies we’ve seen here for the kick off of the 2016 season,” he said.
The Cusiel family of Queenstown enjoying the snow – (L to R) Natasha, Jasper, Paige (both 12) and Dad Jeremy
“Our team’s done an amazing job in bringing the trails to life, enabling us to operate with all four chairlifts, 100% of our beginner area and 80% of intermediate terrain, with plenty of off-piste for the adventurous. What more could you ask?
“Everyone’s having a great time.”
The ski area’s first day marked the official ‘opening’ of the newly-sealed Remarkables access road, a smooth ride that took skiers and boarders up the mountain with ease and in comfort.
For a video on today’s snow conditions, please click here.
For information on passes, rentals and lessons, and to keep track of conditions, go towww.nzski.com
They’re off – first on the Curvey Basin chairlift at The Remarkables were (L to R) Jamie Gaboda (10), Hannah Gaboda (12), Morgan Hartveld, Josh Martin, Angelique Vinnedge and Jesse James Johnston