Wanderings, travel, photographs and skiing…

Skiing New Zealand: Turoa Ski Area Mount Ruapehu – a great day on the slopes

By on August 12, 2007 in New Zealand

Wow, what a great day at the Turoa Ski Area Mount Ruapehu! Fantastic. One to remember – skiing at Turoa on Mount Ruapehu.

The weather was very strange in the morning – at 7:30 am it was cloudy, at 7:45 am it was clear blue skies, and by 8:00 am it was thick cloud. This didn’t suggest the weather was going to be good up the volcano, but it was!

We had a good breakfast ($14) at the Sunbeam Motels & Lodge – a full fry up.

The drive up to the ski area was fine.  The road was in good condition and paved all the way. Snow chains were required if there is snow on the road (there appeared to be a $25 chain hire/fitting service in one of the lay-byes), we didn’t need chains. The rocks by the side of the road were very interesting as they were amazing shades of red and black, with lots of rocks mixed up and set in other rock – guess this is what you get on a volcano.

Looking back down the road up to the Turoa Ski Area on Mount Ruapehu

Looking back down the road up to the Turoa Ski Area on Mount Ruapehu – you can see the fog/cloud below

The Turoa Ski Area on Mount Ruapehu - view from the carpark

The Turoa Ski Area on Mount Ruapehu – view from the car park

The ski area is above the tree line, and when we arrived the muddy car park was already filling up. The great news was the mountain was above the clouds and in glorious sunshine.

Skis, ski boot, poles and pass were available in one hire shop (all very efficient). I hired a pair of performance boots and skis for $130 NZ (this included the lift pass).  They were good skis and boots.

From the base-lodge, there were two old slow lifts taking the skier/boarders up to the main mountain area and also to a beginners area near the base-lodge.

The ski area was larger than any of the areas I had seen down on the south island.

The conditions were mixed. Some areas were very icy (looking at the snow and the off-piste areas it is clear that the volcano regularly experiences high-winds and freeze/thaw cycles – I saw some alarmingly crystal clear rock-hard ice both on and off the trails), some areas were very ski-able with a soft snow.  There was lots of very hard packed-powder around and there was quite a lot of rock sticking through the snow off-piste. The black volcanic rock really provided a sharp contrast against the bright white sunlit snow.

The upper slopes were served by a very good high speed six seater lift which gave access to a range of blue and black runs. Some of the lower lifts were very slow.

There were also two cafes on the volcano. One thing that was odd was there were no large piste maps. And trail maps were only available from the base-lodge. I asked why there were no large maps on the mountain and was told that they cost too much.

The weather was fantastic.  The base-lodge was in the cloud, but the main ski area was above.

As we skied, or rode the lifts, we occasionally got a whiff of sulphur (or that may have been fellow lift passengers….)

Skiing down at the end of the day was via a very narrow and crowded trail.

Skiing and chairlifts above the clouds

Skiing and chairlifts above the clouds

Skiing above the clouds - the only other land in sight was the another large volcano...

Skiing above the clouds – the only other land in sight was the another large volcano…

Turoa Ski Area, Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand

Turoa Ski Area, Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand

Turoa Ski Area, Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand

Turoa Ski Area, Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand

Turoa Ski Area Mount Ruapehu

Off piste at the Turoa Ski Area Mount Ruapehu

Summit of Mount Ruapehu

Summit of Mount Ruapehu

Ski lifts - Turoa Ski Area Mount Ruapehu

Ski lifts – Turoa Ski Area Mount Ruapehu

Turoa Ski Area Mount Ruapehu

Ski lifts above the clouds at the Turoa Ski Area Mount Ruapehu

Verdict: A great day of skiing, snow was not great, but I had fun. Skiing above clouds was great.

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