Queenstown's Coronet Peak ski area is the first Australasian skifield to open for winter.

Hundreds of hardy skiers and boarders began arriving from 5am yesterday to hit the slopes.

On one of the best opening days in recent memory, an estimated 2000 people made the pilgrimage by the end of it, including 61-year-old Japanese skier Tomoyoki Imada, who holds the record from last season of the most vertical kilometres skied in one season.