The skifields on Mount Ruapehu are scheduled to open on June 27th this year. If you’re a keen skiier or snowboarder, chances are you’ve already booked some time at a bach, pulled out your gear or bought some flash new additions, and if you’re lucky, have a season pass burning a hole in your pocket. Winter is coming. Bring it on!
Taking the family to the snow for the first time?
If you’re a newby but really want to give the children a chance to experience snow this year, check out our Guide for First Time Family Ski Holidays. You’ll find some handy hints on what you need and where to go.
Get a head start at Snowplanet
If you live around Auckland, consider a session or two at Snowplanet, the indoor snow resort on the North Shore, before you head to the mountain. It’s a great way for children or adults to get a bit of experience before they hit the more expensive and less predictable conditions on the mountain. Build some confidence or polish up skills that might have got a bit rusty, so you can get the most out of your time on the slopes. Snowplanet is open every day til 10p.m., and midnight Fridays and Saturdays. There’s a restaurant, equipment rental and lessons if you need them. They have a July School Holiday programme, and after school programmes.
North Island skifields
Mt Ruapehu is the number one place to head for snow in the North Island. The volcanic peaks of the Tongariro National Park are stunningly scenic - you may recognize sites which were used in the Lord of the Rings films if you’re a fan of all things Hobbity. Read our Snow Guide Ruapehu for the lowdown on the two big skifields: Whakapapa with its north-facing slopes, close to National Park, and Turoa on the south-west side of the mountain, accessed from Ohakune. You’ll find information on facilities, and links to loads of chalets, lodges, and historic and modern holiday homes in areas close to the snow.
For a less crowded and commercial experience, you can try one of the Club skifields. Tukino is a club field on the eastern side of Ruapehu, meaning you can ski in the morning sun. It’s run by members but welcomes the public. Access to Tukino is via a 4WD road, 22.4km north from Waiouru along the Desert Road, or south from Turangi for 46.4km. You can book a shuttle service that operates from the 2WD car park (Base Camp) up to the Tukino Skifield. Phone 06 387 6294 to book the shuttle.
Or take the road less travelled and head to Manganui Ski Area on the slopes of Mount Taranaki. The single, dramatic peak of Taranaki rises 2518m from the surrounding countryside, looking enough like Mt Fuji to get a starring role in The Last Samurai. It’s snow-clad and open to skiers and boarders from June to October. The ski area is a 45 minute drive from New Plymouth. There is no gear hire up at the ski area, so get kitted up beforehand. Take good footwear and a backpack as it’s a 20 minute walk up from the carpark.There are gentle intermediate runs and bowls lower down, and steeper runs accessed by a long rope tow higher up.
Central Plateau: activites and towns
Bookabach’s Guide to Tongariro and Central Plateau has information about lots of things to do in the area, in case you don’t want to spend every waking moment on the skifield, or want to come back in other seasons. Hike, bike, fish or kayak - the area is perfect for outdoor adventures. Read up on local towns to decide where to base yourself. There’s more to Ohakune than a giant carrot and apres ski with a Swiss Chalet vibe…