South Island ski fields were today coated in their first small dump of snow for the year.

However, snowfalls aren't expected to last as the cold front makes its way up the North Island overnight, the MetService says.

Cardrona Alpine Resort spokeswoman Jen Houltham said although the snowfall wasn't massive it was "solid".

"It was probably around a solid 5cm base and then drifts of between 10cm and 20cm depending on where the wind was.


"Five centimetres over everything is just nice. It's a good little dusting just before we start snowmaking next week."

Coronet Peak ski field manager Nigel Kerr said 5cm also fell at Coronet and the Remarkables, creating a buzz amongst Queenstown locals.

"The thing is it's a southerly, there's not a lot of moisture in it. There's just a really nasty grey sky and cold, biting wind. But this is what we're here for ... it's just whitening everything up and everybody in town is getting very excited because it's very cold."

He said he believed Mt Hutt would be getting the most out of the southerly due to the way it had travelled up the coast.

Cardrona's digger was also coated by the small snowfall overnight. Photo/Supplied
Cardrona's digger was also coated by the small snowfall overnight. Photo/Supplied

It had been cold and wet all day in Methven but they were yet to see how much snow had accumulated. Given the conditions, he expected it to be about 10cm.

However, MetService meteorologist Brian Mercer said the snow would be short-lived and may not be as fruitful by the time it reaches Mt Ruapehu.

"At this stage most of the snow in the South Island will have eased off and if it hasn't it will overnight. It's not going to be a big dump. We were expecting snow down to about 700m or so today in the South Island."

In general, most parts of the South Island will be dry tomorrow.

"It's not the start of the winter dump yet. It's just that cold southerly. We haven't had many of those so far this autumn."

The front was still moving over Wellington before it hits Mt Ruapehu overnight.

"We are expecting rainfall there and also we would expect a certain amount of snow there [tonight] it could get down to about 800m but we're not expecting huge numbers [of snow] ... there will be a dusting of the upper slopes."

The Remarkables and Cardrona are due to open on June 10, while Coronet Peak will open on June 17. Mt Hutt is due to open on June 9.

At Mt Ruapehu, Happy Valley is set to open June 3, Whakapapa June 10 and Turoa will be all go by July 1.

Houltham said a highlight for Cardrona this season is the new $10 million McDougall's express chair lift which now features chondolas, or gondola cabins.

"It's the first cabin-style ski lift on a ski area in New Zealand. It's what's called a combination lift. It's 10 gondola cabins and 40 chairs, so every four chairs you have a gondola cabin ... it's just a really good way of getting everybody to the top of the mountain whether they're skiing or snowboarding or if they're up their for sightseeing.

"It's really a lift for everyone."

Chondolas hold eight people, the chair lift holds six, carrying about 2550 people up the lift an hour, increasing its uphill capacity by 150 per cent.