There is no snow on Queenstown slopes but keen skiers were lining up from 4am to purchase second hand gear.
About 200 of people were in the queue for the Salvation Army’s annual ski sale when it opened at 9am on Wednesday.
Newcomers to Queenstown Simon Voggenreiter, of Germany, and Hannah Smith, of Scotland, were the first in the queue at 4am.
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“We didn’t know what time to come so we thought we’d come as early as possible,” Voggenreiter said.
“We had our sleeping bags and were just watching Game of Thrones,” Smith said.
They said the next person joined them in the queue at 5.30am.
Almost at the end of the line Em Moog, Jo Miles and Ruby-Gean Whitehead were optimistic about the wait.
“I reckon we’ll get in in about three minutes. The queue is really small,” Whitehead laughed.
Friends said they were after any bargains they could find before the ski season starts in mid-June.
“Everything we can get our mitts on. So maybe mittens?” Whitehead said.
People in line were offered a sausage sizzle and a free cookie.
Queenstown’s Georgia Nee said the ski sale was well organised and she met a lot of friendly people in line.
“Everyone is very cute and they are very nice to each other,” she said.
“A guy offered to get us a coffee, it’s just such a Queenstown thing to do,” she added.
The shop’s acting manager Semi Ratu said he was shocked when he saw the long queue forming by 6am when he came into the shop.
Ratu said over 400 skis and snowboard was donated to them this year.
“We started off with a small room. Now we’ve got two massive 40ft containers,” he said.
Ratu said the ski sale had grown in popularity in the five years it had been running,
“You get people coming at the beginning of the year coming in asking when’s our ski sale.”
Experienced skiers and snowboarders evaluated the gear and gave indicative prices prior to the event with the most expensive item being $100.
Some of the donated to Salvation Army equipment was “expensive stuff”, Ratu said.
“We are guessing people are just coming in for a week of skiing, then leave and donate the rest.”
Over 15 volunteers and 10 staff were working at the ski sale and were letting five people at a time from 9am.
For health and safety reasons only up to 35 people could be upstairs at the same time, Ratu said.
The Wakatipu Ski Club will also be holding its annual ski at the Queenstown Event Centre on May 28.
Organiser Peter Divine said the sale attracted over 3000 skiers last year.
Queenstown’s Remarkables and Wanaka’s Cardrona ski fields are scheduled to be the first open this year on June 10. Coronet Peak is scheduled to open on June 17 and Treble Cone on June 22.