From 9am this morning Christchurch's premier ski field opened to record crowds.
Mt Hutt has welcomed over 2000 skiers to their snowfield and has been running on all three lifts.
Operators NZ Ski said they had seen skiers turn up for blue skies and great snow coverage in their largest numbers in over a decade.
Although early ski conditions had not allowed the lower slopes to open, the new Nor'West Express lift was doing its work to shift visitors up the mountain.
The eight-seater which replaces the old chair lift increases the capacity of the mountain from 1600 to a maximum of 3000 skiers per hour.
The first of its kind in New Zealand, the chair lift is also rated to run in higher wind conditions.
"It allows us to keep on running when the old chairs were right on the threshold for operating," says James McKenzie area manager for the ski field.
While the slopes were coping well with the record numbers, car parking was struggling.
Three out of five car parks were full by midday with more skiers still turning up.
"We opened on time with plenty of happy punters on the lifts," said Paul Anderson, chief executive of NZSKI.
"Beautiful weather has brought people out in force."
Parking was backed up two and a half kilometers down the mountain, with very busy shuttles running from the bottom of the mountain.
"We're parking all the way down to the saddle, with people still coming in. As we get closer to midday, we'll see more car parks open as the early birds go home."
Solo-skiers or those with spare seats were being encouraged to carpool, using the app snowriders.nz this year to ease congestion on the roads.
In an effort to beat the crowds and be first on the lift, some snow lovers had camped out overnight.
First at the gates Ben Yorston said he was "running on adrenaline" after staying up all night. After a recent heartbreak, he was hoping to catch news cameras and eye of his ex. "Hopefully she sees," he said.
However, the biggest motivation was being not only first through the doors, but first to ride a brand new lift.
"Because it's a new chair I'm pumped, it's going to be something that will stick around."
The previous opening day record has stood since 2009 with 2093 skiers.
Forecasts predict a fine day for Saturday, the pick of the weekend with conditions deteriorating on Sunday.
East coast ski season
Just two weeks after Methven was cut off by severe floods in Canterbury access to the mountain has been restored, and the wet weather left plenty of powder on top of the mountain.
"At the top of the mountain we're measuring snow in excess of 3 metres," said McKenzie. "There are some seasons when we don't see 3 metres all year."
Elsewhere club fields in Hanmer Springs also benefitted from the dumping of snow. Amuri Ski Club had its earliest opening on record last weekend.
Meanwhile, in South Canterbury members of the Fox Peak club field reported plenty of snow but were unable to get to the slopes due to damaged access roads.