Richie McCaw has been putting his chopper pilot skills to good use today to help reduce avalanche risk at Porters Ski Area near Christchurch.

The ski fields were closed today after more than half a metre of snow raised the avalanche risk to very high.

Around 60cm of snow fell on Friday and Saturday at the ski area, which is an hour west of Christchurch.

Porters had hoped to clear the snow this morning and open today but foggy conditions slowed the work and the ski area remains closed.

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Avalanche control work with Richie McCaw this morning

Posted by Porters Ski Area on Saturday, 22 July 2017

The snow safety team is aiming to have the ski area open on Monday, when clear skies and light winds are expected.

McCaw earned his helicopter pilot's licence after retiring from rugby following the 2015 World Cup. He is now an owner and director of Christchurch Helicopters.

As well as stopping avalanches he's previously been called in to help fight the Port Hills fires and save the Marlborough region's grape harvest from frosts.