Keen skiers and snowboarders came from near and far to help Wanaka’s beloved Treble Cone ski area celebrate the start of winter today (Saturday June 23).
Close to thirty riders arrived at the crack of dawn to ensure they were first on the Home Basin Express lift when the gates opened at 9am sharp.
The hardiest six – Mike Handford, Macca Wills and Phil Masack from Wanaka, Hailey Neutgens and Paul Rumore from Montana (United States) and James Cootes from Twizel – were rewarded with distinctive red ‘First on the Chair’ T-shirts.
Excited for the season ahead, Mike Handford was stoked to be on the first chair.
“What a day to open! I’m looking forward to the bluebird day ahead and hanging out with the crew,” he says.
“I’ve been riding Treble Cone for nine years and love the terrain, people and epic sunrises.”
And the wait was worth it, as earlybird riders were rewarded with a glorious sunrise and cool clear conditions over Treble Cone’s Home and Saddle Basins.
The ski area opened five days early thanks to healthy pre-season snowfalls and General Manager Toby Arnott said staff were “pumped” to welcome their first guests of the season.
“The atmosphere’s been amazing this morning and there was a real sense of celebration in the air as we enjoyed some free Amisfield bubbles and welcomed back our loyal season pass holders with breakfast rolls,” he says.
“Anyone who’s ridden at TC over the years knows that this is an experience well worth waiting for, because as the largest ski area in the South Island we’ve got a massive 700m of vertical and some of the country’s longest groomed trails.
“If you want to go out and play, there are backcountry areas still within the ski area boundaries that are a playground of open faces, natural half pipes and fun drops.
“With 550ha of ski terrain, it’s no wonder our slopes are renowned for being wide open and uncrowded, and wherever you are on the mountain there are outstanding views of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps.”
TC’s opening has coincided with a cold snap that’s set to deliver a significant snowfall over the next two days.
“We couldn’t hope for a better start to our season,” says Toby.
All mountain facilities will operate from today onwards including rentals, lessons and a full F&B service with a new menu delighting hungry guests.