First time skiing experience with Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand
We are always up for new adventures and experiences, it is one of the top reasons why we love travelling so much, and skiing is one of those experiences that we have been wanting to try for a while! Before we moved to New Zealand, I made a list of the top things we were looking forward to doing here, and I am happy to say we have finally fulfilled this from our bucketlist last weekend on our epic skiing holiday with Mt Ruapehu Ski and Snowboard 🙂
This post is mainly targeted towards people planning their first skiing holiday, and our experience is with families doing it with children. It is useful for knowing what to expect from a skiing holiday as we had learnt a LOT about preparation, when to go, what to do and bring, and how best to make this a memorable, budget, and relaxing holiday. We loved it so much that we are going back for more in 2 weeks time during our campervan trip in South Island!
Where to go skiing?
Mt Ruapehu is one of the only places you can ski in the North Island – there are two ski fields and both are managed by the same company. We went back and forth between the two – Whakapapa and Turoa – and whilst both looked really lovely, we went with Turoa as we heard the Alpine Meadow – for beginners like us – here had more space to ski and snowboard in. On the other hand, for more advanced skiers, there is a massive 722m of vertical descent on New Zealand’s highest chairlift – The “Highnoon Express” There is one other ski field run by a different company but it is very small.
Very centrally located, 4.5 hours from Auckland and 4 hours from Wellington, Ruapehu is the most active volcano and the highest peak in North Island. It is based inside the Tongariro National Park, oldest national park in New Zealand.
Just for geeky Lord of The Ring knowledge trivia, this is the location of Mount Doom where Frodo and Sam comes to drop the ring – “The maze of razor-sharp rocks, cliffs and ravines of Emyn Muil”
Best time to go? Being one of the only ski resort here in North Island, and being so centrally located, it gets super busy on the weekends. Your best bet is to go in the middle of the week and they have some great rates during that time. During the winter season, lift facilities operate from 9AM-4PM daily (weather dependent). The ski seasons goes on until October 26th this year. Below are two pictures of the same place – one on a Saturday, super busy, the other when we went back Monday!
How much does it cost?
There are different prices depending if you are just getting lift passes, or renting equipment as well. For the full list, see here. We got the Discover Package $115 for adults, $85 for children which included – Full day Beginners’ area lift pass, hire of skis, boots and poles, and 1 hr 50 min group lesson.
Where to Stay? This will depend which ski field you want to base yourself in. For Turoa it is better to be based in Ohakune. There are several budget and luxury accomodation here to choose from. We stayed at a lovely place – Ossies Chalet and Apartments – and it’s about a 20 minutes drive to Turoa skifield.
What other facilities are there?
There were several facilities here including childcare, cafes, ski and clothes rental, workshop services and more! At Turoa it was all conveniently located around this one big square with different buildings for each. For all other questions – storage, shuttles, and other logistics, see here.
How easy is it to learn?
Obviously we can only speak for ourselves, and everyone has different learning curves and ability to pick up a new sport. The kids had it down within a few hours, followed by Ashique and then there was me, cautious and wary, but eventually, within a few hours, we were all going down the gentle slopes. We all fell a few times, but no serious injury for anyone 🙂
We found out that a skiing trip is perfect for a family holiday
I can’t vouch for all ski areas, but Mt Ruapehu and the surrounding resort towns catered for the whole family, whether there are beginners, intermediate or advanced skiers in the family. The Alpine Meadow area was perfect for beginners like us but we also saw some amazing skiers and snowboarders doing all kinds of tricks and stunts on the other slops. Additionally, our trip here at Mt Ruapehu was special as we were lucky to get two “blue bird days” 🙂 Monday skiing was unreal, by the end of the day we were skiing with no jackets, gloves or hats, just in Tshirts!
Children seem to learn much faster than adults!
I will let this video speak for itself, Shahaar’s second day skiing. Both kids were amazing! And it just wasn’t our kids, I couldn’t believe how good some of the little kids were – zipping along, tiny 4 year olds, going so fast as well!
Few lessons and tips learnt from our first time experiences
Firstly, it is much cheaper to rent outside than here at the ski resort. There were several venues at Ohakune where we stayed, including the chalet we stayed at. Secondly, you don’t really have to rent jackets if you have an outdoor waterproof jacket (which we did.) For some reason, we thought skiing jackets would be different and we had rented them the first day. It wasn’t necessary at all. Also good to shop around for things like goggles, gloves, hats before even getting to the area.
Secondly, we found the 2 hour lessons really helpful for getting started. The instructors are very good and there are separate lessons for adults and kids, plus for people of different skill level. After the first lesson, and once you can stop and turn, you are good to go!
How long can we ski for?
At first I had thought we wouldn’t be doing it more than half the day. But we ended up being here from 10am till 5:30pm! The morning just goes by super fast with getting geared up, renting skis, having the two-hour lessons and by the end of it, you are ready for lunch! We had a long lunch break, much needed, although it was super crowded and hard to get seats. Food was good but expensive, the free hot chocolate that the kids got was just instant Cadbury style chocolate. Many people brough their own packed lunches and drinks.
The skiing itself was just brilliant. We just love sports that are based outdoors, set in beautiful nature 🙂 Even when we weren’t skiing or having lunch, it was just lovely to sit on top of the hills and enjoy the panoramic views, breathe in the fresh crisp air, and build snowmen. On the first day, Shama was getting a bit frustrated with not picking it up as fast as her brother and after a few attempts, the two of us left our skis, climbed up the hill and just enjoyed the glorious weather.
We left around 5:30, tired but happy. We started driving down the mountain, very slowly, as the sun was just setting and we had to stop at several points along the way to enjoy the sunset and the beautiful colours reflected on the mountain.
The next day we drove up to the other Skifield Whakapapa, just to see if it was very different from Turoa. We had no intention of skiing on the busy sunday and was saving our 2nd ski day for monday after the crowds had left. We explored the area and did a few short walks at different points of interest. Stunningly beautiful is all I have to say about it and deserves a post on of its own!
disclaimer – We were kindly provided with Discovery Package Passes by Mt Ruapehue but as always all opinions are my own. We genuinely enjoyed our first experience skiing here at Mt Ruapehu and could not have asked for a better venue and perfect weather to go with it!