The first resort in the southern hemisphere has opened for the 2020 season. Afriski is one of two resorts in southern Africa, and has opened for skiing on June 6th. Afriski had planned to open on June 4th but was delayed due to COVID-19 closures.
Afriski is located in the country of Lesotho, which is surrounded entirely by the larger country of South Africa. South Africa is currently still under lockdown and has closed its borders to travelers. Lesotho has had no deaths due to COVID-19 and has lifted lockdown, making Afriski essentially open to locals only.
Afriski is 10,600 feet above sea level and boasts about one kilometer of trails. Afriski is located in the Drakensberg-Maluti Mountains. June is typically the driest month in Lesotho, though temperatures are cold enough for artificial snowmaking. Temperatures in Lesotho can dip as low as 0°F in the mountains in the winter.
Before the pandemic, Happy Valley on Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand was set to be the first southern hemisphere ski terrain to open. Happy Valley is a snow play area with year-round snowmaking capabilities. It was originally scheduled to open on May 30th, but will now open on July 1st with Mt Ruapehu resort.
Mt Hutt resort in New Zealand will be the second southern hemisphere resort to open on June 12th, a week later than their originally planned opening date of June 5th.
Many Australian resorts are planning on opening on June 22. Resorts in Argentina and Chile remain affected by lockdowns and have not released opening dates.