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‘Awesome’ is the only word we can think of to describe the start of the 2016 ski season in the southern hemisphere.

In the days and weeks leading up to the start of the season, there have been some huge snowfalls in South America and New Zealand, making this season one of the best ever! One resort in Chile even reported around 100 inches of snow in seven days.

Southern Hemisphere Kicks Off 2016 Winter With Massive Snow Totals

PHOTO: Ski Portillo

The “El Nino effect” is credited for the snowy start to the season south of the equator. In case you’ve forgotten, it’s the same weather effect that broke the five-year drought in California (and other areas of the West Coast in North America)—so much so that we hear Mammoth Mountain plans to stay open until at least Independence Day, July 4th.

There were some good snowfalls in April and May across the southern hemisphere’s ski slopes, but things really moved up a gear over these past few weeks. Argentina, Chile and New Zealand in particular reported huge snow totals.

Southern Hemisphere Kicks Off 2016 Winter With Massive Snow Totals

PHOTO: Ski Portillo

South America

Ski Portillo in Chile posted the biggest accumulation with a single multi-day storm, dumping an amazing NINE FEET of snow on the world-famous powder destination. Skiers and snowboarders can expect epic conditions when the resort opens next week. (Looking for Ski Portillo lift tickets? Buy them in advance on Liftopia.com and you can save some serious cash!)

Valle Nevado, one of the closest ski areas to Chilean capital Santiago and part of one of the continent’s largest ski areas, opened Friday, June 10. La Parva, also in Chile, has opened June 9.

But El Colorado trumped them all and opened June 3 (several weeks ahead of its planned opening date). With 40 inches on the upper runs and half that at its base, the resort holds the title for being the first ski resort in the southern hemisphere to open for winter 2016.

In Argentina, the majority of ski resorts have announced opening days this week.

Southern Hemisphere Kicks Off 2016 Winter With Massive Snow Totals

PHOTO: Valle Nevado

Opening Dates For South American Ski Resorts

Ski Portillo: June 18

Valle Nevado: OPEN as of June 10

La Parva: OPEN as of June 9

El Colorado: OPEN as of June 3

Southern Hemisphere Kicks Off 2016 Winter With Massive Snow Totals

PHOTO: El Colorado

New Zealand

Across the Pacific, big snowfalls were also seen in New Zealand. Ski areas reported total accumulations not quite so big as South America, but still enough for resorts to make all of their terrain accessible on their announced opening dates.

First to open last weekend was Mt Hutt, Cardrona and Coronet Peak.

See New Zealand lift tickets.

Southern Hemisphere Kicks Off 2016 Winter With Massive Snow Totals

PHOTO: Mt Hutt

Opening Dates For New Zealand Resorts

Mt Hutt: Saturday, June 11

Cardrona: Saturday, June 11

Coronet Peak: Saturday, June 11

Southern Hemisphere Kicks Off 2016 Winter With Massive Snow Totals

PHOTO: El Colorado

More about southern hemisphere skiing…

For those not familiar with the southern hemisphere ski season, it typically runs from early June through late September. On good years, resorts can open as early as May if they wish (a few New Zealand ski areas certainly could have this year) and occasionally Mt Ruapehu ski area (also in New Zealand) stays open to ‘Snowvember’ – the hemisphere’s equivalent of Mammoth making it to Independence Day.

South of the equator, there are about 100 ski areas in total that are located in six countries (seven if you count Antarctica) and on three continents (or four if you count Antarctica where there’s reportedly one drag lift). This compares to more than 5,000 ski areas located in around 70 countries on three continents north of the equator.

The ski areas are mostly in Chile and Argentina, in the Andes mountains of South America, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. There are even a few on southern tip of Africa in Lesotho and South Africa.

So how is the rest of the southern hemisphere looking? Well, in southern Africa there were some natural snowfalls in April and May. The two centres are now snowmaking during the cold nights and they intend to open any day now.

Australian ski areas also posted some snowy pictures last month after a good pre-season snowfall. Most will open over the weekend as it’s a long holiday weekend there. They too are currently relying mostly on snowmaking for any early operations.

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Sub-Categories liftopia / More Snowsports / Ski / Ski & Snowboard / Snow & Weather / Snowboard / South America / Travel
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  • ladycat713

    Hi your contest says it is ended even though the rules state it doesn’t end until the 27th.

    • liftopia

      Hi there! Our contest closes on June 27 so there’s still plenty of time to sign up and share. Here’s the link: http://bike.liftopia.com/?show=sweeps#

      Don’t forget… You get additional entries for friends who enter! Good luck.