By Maddy Lloyd
The wait is over for skiers in the South Island as Mt Hutt becomes the first ski field there to officially open.
Some extra keen mountain goers arrived before 7 this morning to get to the front of the queue, including Josh from Christchurch, who slept on the chairlift overnight to secure his place at the front of the line.
"I'm feeling great, y'know? It's been a long time - it's been many, many hours and [I'm] a bit warmer now, a bit warmer," he said.
"Not sure if I slept - maybe an hour or two but it was cold. It was really cold.
"It was worth it. It was really worth it."
All lifts and main trails are open today, including a brand new trail and tunnel which can be skied on.
It's a long time coming for the workers at Mt Hutt who have had a busy summer preparing for the season.
"You've got two-and-a-half more kilometres of new trails, you've got some new snow-making, state-of-the-art grooming has arrived here as well," Mt Hutt ski area manager James McKenzie said.
"We've made some improvements on our road and our base lodge, got a new rentals area, so yeah, lots of changes around the place."
Year after year, the feeling of opening day never gets old.
"It's fantastic, it's great - huge smiles on their faces," he said.
"Even for our staff, we just love it, you know? It's just such a great experience to see the start of the season. So much effort goes in over the summer and that build-up to opening, so it's a really cool day."
Hundreds of people have already hit the mountain, filling up the main carparks.
Shuttles are now taking passengers up the access road from the Rakaia Saddle carpark.
Wind is forecast for the mountain today, with high overcast cloud.
Skiers are advised to check the weather report and Mt Hutt's Facebook page for any updates, and to drive carefully up the access road.