Ssssh. There’s a secret, well it’s not a greatly kept secret, but it’s a little knowledge that you visitors to Taupo might not know about….
We have cats on our mountain.
Ok……. we're talking Cat Skiing, and no, that does not involve strapping your favourite moggy to a pair of planks – but a mechanical caterpillar vehicle, ready to haul you up the mountain in style, to the less accessible runs and clean lines of Tukino skifield.
Mount Ruapehu, situated just south of Lake Taupo, has the well known fields of Whakapapa and Turoa on which to snow-slide your way to heaven but little Tukino, tucked on the mountain's eastern slopes, gets much less press as a smaller, local gem.
Tukino is a slice of life as it used to be on New Zealand ski fields; it is run for club members and the public by the club. Sporting a 4WD access road, a small club hut complete with roaring fire and only you and the snow to contemplate, queues are not in the vocabulary here at Tukino. Crowds, hardly! The only thing there is a lot of is fresh tracks to be had. Whoopie!!
Learners are always welcome and there is a learner area and lessons available. Learning to use the nutracker rope tows is probably the hardest part of learning to ski at Tukino, but once you've got that mastered you'll be away.
The 3 nutcracker tows cover a great range of terrain, and for intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders the good folk of Tukino have made life even easier with Cat Skiing. An awesome Cat will drive you up to the very fresh, untouched snow you’ve been longing for.
There is nothing like un-tracked snow, and NOT having to hike your heavy load up yourself only sweetens the deal, so we highly recommend you get a few mates along and spend the day shredding the gnar via Cat. Minimum input, maximum output!
You can purchase one cat ride with your lift pass (Adult Day Pass is $60) for $35 a pop, or if you prefer, get a five-ride concession card which you can use on any day you are at the field for $150. Midweek, a group of ten can hire the Cat for the day at a cost of $2000, including up to five runs and an alpine barbeque. The field is sheltered from the prevailing westerly wind and so can often be open when the rest of the mountain is closed.
If you just can't bear the thought of leaving, there are accomodation and ski packages available too. You will stay on the mountain at a ski club lodge and be provided with meals, although there is a roster so you have to chip in and help with the chores. It's a really unique, kiwi experience and affordable, with stay and ski packages beginning at $125 per adult, per night.
Just think….. 500 vertical metres per run of sun-facing slopes delivered to you by Cat.
Tukino is just over an hours drive from Taupo. It is important that you do not attempt to drive up the Tukino mountain road until you have confirmed (via the Snowphone – 08 322 5000 or the online Tukino snow report) that the road is open.
Always check conditions before you embark on your day’s adventures and dress appropriately for the weather conditions which can change rapidly at Mt Ruapehu.
Bookings are necessary for some of the above. Click HERE for more information.
Visit http://www.tukino.co.nz for family winter deals.