It's been the week of the season for Mt. Hutt on New Zealand's South Island where local workers have been working up a sweat removing mounds of snow from the base lodge and the road to open up the resort in recent days. First there was the storm July 25 that left 90 centimetres plus in its wake. The resort received over a metre in 36 hours and Mt. Hutt experienced a busy July 26 weekend as snow sports lovers flocked to the mountain. Now the mountain has battened down the hatches in preparation for the next blizzard. The country has been experiencing severe weather conditions with gale force winds forcing the evacuation of 10,000 skiers from the North Island resort of Mt. Ruapehu last week. Conditions have been variable with visibility limited when a French snowboarder got lost in the out-of-bounds area of Mt. Hutt July 29. He spent a night in the elements while rescuers conducted a grid search before locating him at sunrise the next morning. The same storms are set to return and pound the South Island. With a base of 165cms, the new storm will no doubt put Mt. Hutt at the two metre mark and have people lining up for Mt. Hutt helicopters when they launch for the season Aug. 2. Set in the heli hut in the ski area's carpark, Mt. Hutt helicopters will take skiers and boarders to North Peak, the northwest off piste area on the other side of the ski field. Skiers and boarders will be transported over the ski area for one wild ski run down and then delivered back to the carpark for NZ$155. Dubbed the "cheapest heli skiing in New Zealand," Mt. Hutt helicopters is considered a "taster" for those yet to take on a full heli ski day.
- Snow Reports