I’ve just heard there’s a storm on the way. Gales, heavy rain and snow are forecast and I’m getting excited. I love winter weather. It’s fun sitting by the cosy fire listening to the rain falling on the roof. We play ‘guess how much snow will have fallen on the mountain by morning’ and sometimes we even pretend the power’s gone off. That’s right, just so we can read by candlelight and cook soup on top of the fire. I know, such geeks we are (said in Star Wars Yoda voice).
The real bonus of enduring all this winter weather though has to be the thick blanket of snow that covers the Central Plateau come late June. That’s when the real fun starts. I can’t wait to get up to Mt Ruapehu and have some epic days skiing this season. Even my 3 year old keeps asking when we’re going skiing. Mwah ha ha… I have him hooked already! But in all honesty, it didn’t take much for him to catch the snow bug; a couple of days on skis in Happy Valley and it was all he could talk about.
Fun for the Whole Family
I do have to mention how easy it’s been to get our wee tikes into skiing at Mt Ruapehu. They’ve made lift passes and ski rental free for kids aged 4 and under which kind of makes sense really – if you can get the kids hooked young, then the whole family goes skiing regularly and everyone benefits!
Getting Organised Early
If you haven’t already got yourself a season pass, I’ve recently discovered that it’s a good idea to go online and pre-purchase Mt Ruapehu lift passes before you get there. They’re 5% cheaper online (www.mtruapehu.com) and it saves waiting in the queue at the ticket window (not that I’ve really seen queues in the past couple of years, I have to say!). And if you are going up regularly but don’t have your own gear, you can even organise season rental of skis and snowboards so you don’t have to go into rentals each time you visit.
World Class Riding
I’ve skied in Europe and North America and I still think Whakapapa Ski Area has some of the best terrain in the world. There are wide open slopes but also plenty of steeps, chutes and bowls for when you’re feeling more adventurous. Word on the slopes is there’s going to be a big new terrain park at the top of the Valley this year, so I think it might be time to kick start my freestyling career and give it a go! Hmmm, might be time for a new pair of twin tips…
This season I’m going to make sure I’m up at Whakapapa in September to watch the Xtreme Comp. It’s a chance to see top kiwi and international skiers and riders competing on some pretty tough terrain. The comp has been held in The Pinnacles in the past, which provides for great viewing from Knoll Ridge Café. Ah yes, I am already picturing myself relaxing on the deck, vino in hand, watching these amazing skiers and riders do their thing.
Roll on the start of the season, and I hope it snows bucket loads over the next few days!