The Remarkables ski field near Queenstown got down to business yesterday, 48 hours early.

Regular snow over the last few weeks and busy work with snow-making gear gave field managers confidence that most runs were ready for customers.

Area manager Ross Lawrence said: "We have been grooming and preparing trails. It's great to see so many snow addicts up here getting back on the boards and boots, and loving it."

Two other Central Otago fields have held pre-season open days after early winter snow and cold days created promising conditions on the slopes. Coronet Peak and Cardrona held one-off opening days ahead of scheduled June 16 openings.

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A warm front is expected to push northwards over the country during the day, WeatherWatch says, although another front coming through will keep temperatures down.

Meanwhile the country can expect more settled but still cold weather in the weekend after gales and heavy rain.

WeatherWatch's Aaron Wilkinson said a large high in the Tasman Sea was directing a southwesterly airflow over New Zealand. MetService said the front, which produced snow to low levels in the South Island was crossing the North Island. "Significant snow" was expected in parts of central North Island above 500m, with 5cm-8cm expected at the top of Desert Rd.