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Hundreds stranded in NZ ski resort
Wednesday July 27, 2011 - Email this article to a friend

Heavy snow and threat of avalanches meant 250 skiers and snowboarders had to spend the night in Mt Lyford. At one stage power was cut off. In another incident a snowboarder was rescued in a dramatic night operation.

New Zealand has had some of its heaviest snowfalls and coldest temperatures for over a decade.

So much snow fell in the ski resort of Mt Lyford in Canterbury that the authorities closed the road and everyone was forced to stay in the resort overnight.  It was feared avalanches could come down over the access road. 40cm of snow fell on Monday.

The resort has also been buffeted by heavy winds.

The trapped people were fed some food though some described it as just left overs from the day's cooking and at one point the power supply failed leaving it "extremely cold."

Some people said it was too cold to even sleep.

Amoung them were 10 children on a one day ski trip. They crammed on to two mattresses.

However it is reported that everyone's spirit remained good and they slept on makeshift mattresses and clothes from the hire shop.

Web camera on WednesdayWeb camera on WednesdayA piste basher brought in extra food for breakfast.

The authorities said they had no choice but to close the road.

The following day, after a series of controlled explosions, people were allowed to leave. The cars were allowed down in groups of ten. 

The resort remains closed as the avalanche patrol assess the situation and the road is shut.

"Mt Lyford Alpine Resort is closed today. Unfortunately conditions are not suitable for operation. Currently we have strong NW winds. The new snow we have is light and dry, there will be excellent skiing & riding once we are up and running again," says a statement on the resort web site.

"Road Conditions & Traffic; Closed. No access passed the barrier gate at the top of the village. There will be heavy machinery clearing the access road."

Mt Lyford ski areaMt Lyford ski area








Meanwhile a snowboarder on Mt Taranaki had a lucky escape after he was rescued by the mountain rescue in the night after he got into difficulties.  

A three man team found the location of a 30-year old man shortly after the lifts closed but it took them a time to reach him and take him to safety.

He phoned the emergency services after he got lost and disorientated mid-afternoon.

He was airlifted out in pitch darkness according to local media reports.

The operation was described as "difficult".

Elsewhere in New Zealand there has been snow on the beaches and extreme weather as we reported earlier in this story.

We will bring you further news from the other ski resorts in New Zealand later. They report good snow even though the winds have been very high.

For the spirit of the mountains

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