Under blues skies, a beautiful day with no wind, the ski area was the first to open in Australasia, celebrating the occasion in style with around 300 excited skiers and boarders who had queued up for the lifts to open, eager to cut their first tracks.
Coveted ‘First on the Chair’ honours for the first four to ride the Coronet Express, went to a group of Queenstown teenagers who arrived at 11pm the night before and spent a cold night trying to sleep under the picnic tables on the deck to claim their spot of first on chair fame.
Finn Duffy, Tiarn Collins, Jacob O’Donoghue-Price and Cooper Neilson, all 14, were the lucky riders to receive a ‘First on the Chair’ T-shirt and bragging rights to be the first down the hill.
“We’ve never done this before but we thought we’d do it to check out what the competition was like,” said Finn.
And after their first run? “It was great to have the run to ourselves, it was hard and fast,” said Finn.
Over 600 guests flocked to the mountain for the much anticipated opening day and were welcomed by ski area manager Ross Copland.
“Today is all about Queenstown locals dusting off the gear and having a ski,” he said. “We’ve got the best snow in the Southern Hemisphere at this early stage of the season thanks largely to the great investment in snowmaking and the reliability that gives us.
“It’s great for Queenstown to get the season underway, and looking ahead we’re excited about Winter Festival and the re-launch of night skiing with doubling of the terrain. Overall we’ve got some really promising signs for the season to come.”
Among the avid snow lovers were Queenstown local Yuko Wakushima and her children Cool, 12, and Anru, 10.
“We’re so excited to be up here,” she said, beaming from ear to ear.
Coronet Peak opened with an average 30cm of snow on the main trails, providing access on the Coronet Express to the main M1 trail, Upper and Lower Wall Street, Pro Am, Mid Gully and Million Dollar.
The Meadows Express lift also opened for novice and early intermediate skiers and boarders to access Big Easy and Gentle Annie with carpet lifts running in the main beginners’ area.