Prepare For Winter With The New Zealand Snow Guide 2017
With a cold blast hitting much of New Zealand earlier than expected, ski fields the length of the country have been able to open with bonus time to spare. Seasoned snow bunnies know their spots on both islands, but for those looking to venture out and experience new terrain and thrills, where do you go and what does each mountain offer? M2 has put together a guide to New Zealand’s winter playgrounds both north and south discovering what’s new and what’s happening in 2017.
New Zealand’s largest ski area has taken advantage of the early cold snap and was the first to open in the country this year with its Happy Valley beginner area.
And, for the Whakapapa faithful, the new Rangitira Express quad lift is now open for its 2nd season of business. Joining it will be the Doppelmayr “Delta Quad” chairlift which has replaced the Waterfall T-Bar, all as a part of the multi-million dollar capital investment to shorten queues and make the ride up that much more comfortable. Money has been spent wisely over the summer months to enhance the customer experience with plenty more to come. It’s not all about the high altitude hard-core and Happy Valley has got its own new toys.
The expansion at the kid-friendly hub includes an area away from the tangle of skis, poles and boards where snowmen can be built uninterrupted – even in the above-zero temperatures. How does this work? Happy Valley is the only ski area in the country with a ‘Snow Factory’ snowmaking system and the technology will heavily increase the snow production regardless of the weather (it can make snow in up to 25degC!). Getting to Happy Valley is that much easier now too with the installation of two 26 person Schindler elevators that has made the transition from car park to the slopes that much easier for families.
TRAILS Beginners 25%, intermediate 50%, advanced 25%
WHEN TO GO The season started early in 2017 with Happy Valley opening on June 3. The rest of the mountain was scheduled to open in early July & run into late October. August & September are usually ideal times to hit Whakapapa & they now have Night Skiing from early July to September.
The little brother hasn’t missed out on the upgrades and the capacity to make more snow with an increase in snowmaking guns on the lower mountain. Even though natural snowfall has been later to form here than on Whakapapa, the less-trodden field on the south-western slopes of Ruapehu has its own unique features and the High Noon Express is still New Zealand’s (and Australasia’s) highest chairlift. By the time winter truly sets in, Turoa will once again reveal how much it has to offer. More than 20 advanced runs sit at the top of the field and there are natural pipes for the boarders and plenty of secluded backcountry and advanced runs away from the hordes. The Organ Pipes provide skilled operators with plenty of variety and, depending on the snowfall, the Mangawhero Flank is a serious test of ability and kahunas. A local favourite, Turoa isn’t far behind Whakapapa, NZ’s largest ski area, quantity of trails and other facilities and can be a great change up.
TRAILS Beginners 20%, intermediate 55%, advanced 25%
WHEN TO GO Unlike the other side of the mountain, Turoa’s season looks to be following its usual course and will run from July through to the end of October.
When spending the day in the snow, carving up the freshly groomed fields, it is essential to have the right gear for optimum enjoyment. These jackets are hand picked and have the tick of approval from us, and will keep you warm and well-ventilated for a full day of fun.
MARMOT MEN’S FREERIDER JACKET
This big mountain specialist is focused on making the most of your vertical lifestyle—with all bomber fabrics, seam-taped construction, and so many refined features that you’ll lose count before you can add them all up. It’s a powder hound’s dream.
LOWE ALPINE STORM GLOVE
Having dry warm hands it’s essential to get the most out of your skiing. There is nothing worse than cold, wet hands sitting on the chairlift back to the top of the track. This Storm Glove by Lowe Alpine features a waterproof and breathable Triplepoint insert, providing protection from the rain.