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Advice needed South vs North Island

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Sakr, Mar 1, 2019.

  1. Sakr

    Sakr First Runs

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    I was hoping to get some tips on skiing in NZ.
    I can't decide which resort should I choose for (hopefully) this year's skiing trip (end of Aug/early Sep; 1 week).
    I have been to Queenstown twice already and tried out all the ski resorts in the area. Now I am thinking maybe I should try different area.
    How is skiing in North Island comparing to South? How difficult is it to get to ski slopes (I am hoping to get around by bus, preferably)? Is it better to fly into Auckland or Wellington? What are my options if due to bad weather can't do skiing for a day?
    Mt Hutt is the second option I am considering.
    Or is at the end the best to stick to Queesntown?
    I am intermediate to advanced skier, don't care about night life, restaurants, etc. Cheep accommodation is an extra plus.
    Looking forward to hearing from all the experts out there.
     
    essjaywhy likes this.
  2. chrisj

    chrisj One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Mount Ruapehu is the big one on the North Island. Worth visiting and quite decent skiing. It's an active volcano and if you're feeling adventurous and energetic, you can climb from the top of the chairlift, about 500 metres up to the rim of the caldera, then ski down. It's about equidistant from Auckland and Wellington. If you are not skiing, there's the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the world's great day walks, though if the weather is bad enough to stop you skiing, the walk would be not so much fun either. We stayed there last October and there was still good snow cover. We stayed at the Chateau Tongariro, which is this grand old Great Gatsby style hotel. It's expensive by NZ standards, but cheap by Oz standards ($200 per night for twin room). I believe there is fairly cheap hostel style accommodation in Whakapapa village. We drove, so not sure about bus services. There is a daily shuttle up to the ski fields, just a few minutes drive. The only night life in Whakapapa village is hanging around the local pub, though they do have the best potato wedges in the universe IMO.
     
    Froff Life, Tanuki, essjaywhy and 2 others like this.
  3. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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    Avoid buses at ruapehu like the plague, Maybe the private transfers would be ok, but i wouldnt touch the ones by the skilift with a 10 foot pole.
     
  4. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Isn't one of those private buses in a massive legal stoush with Rua co?
    Sounds like a proper bun fight.


    My two cents.

    I love Rua. Born just down the road. Its epic large mountain that is mammoth in girth and unique in enviroment.
    Personally arriving by Wellington offers a more interesting, albeit more expensive flight. Wellington is a much more interesting city than Auckland as well.
    The drive up from Wellington is simple as .
    I'd stay at Ohakune and ski Turoa . Rather than staying at NP/Whaka.
    Its possible to drive to both hills for a day trip.
    Ohakune is the third best ski town in NZ. Its changed a fair bit in recent times.
     
    essjaywhy, sn0wbunny29, Belly and 3 others like this.
  5. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    We had a great dinner in a Ruapehu room of the Chateau. While staying at the Skotel just up the road.
    Not my pics
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    Go to Ruapehu, definately worth it. Get a hire car, it's only going to cost you $30 a day for basic wheels. It gives you the freedom to ski both sides easily and also the option to do something else if the weather / wind closes the mountain.
     
  7. N0frilz

    N0frilz Hard Yards

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    You’ll find that operator has a history of being special the last issue was probably the straw that broke the camels back.
     
  8. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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    Yeah, Colin. But someone was killed on the lift companies buses last year after the brakes failed so yeah i wouldnt be trusting the buses.
     
  9. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    Yup
    pretty sad
    Get a car, the roads are good. Much better than down south

    That time of season Ruapehu can be epic. Huge terrain. But weekend lift lines are usually sh1t

    If you said early August.. definitely southern lakes
     
  10. N0frilz

    N0frilz Hard Yards

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    Can’t be completely blamed on the resort if the bus had a current cof or what ever it’s called....
     
  11. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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  12. hotsaki

    hotsaki One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Heard a rumour Rua is getting a gondola.True?
     
  13. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah at Whakapapa.
    From HV to knoll.
    Mid station as well
     
  14. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    For Papa/Turoa the bad storms can last 4-7 days which means that Papa/Turoa ski areas can be closed during the storm period (highly likely) and that means no skiing. So If you are going for 5-7 days skiing and a bad storm occurs during that time then there is a (very high) possibly of no skiing. The parking at Papa is poor and was a real problem last year, especially because Turoa's 6 seater was damaged and inoperative for nearly the whole season so more people skied Papa.

    The Papa gondola is supposed to ready by June (hopefully) and if ready should be a nice addition. West Ridge is the largest ski area at Papa (about 2/3rds of Papa) but it is serviced by 2 very average lifts (a really old short chair and a tbar) which generally only open late morning or more often early afternoon, and is quite open to the weather. If West Ridge is closed then only about 1/3rd of Papa is skiable.

    The skiing is more open at Turoa and it has some nice fast & longish cruisy runs (outer limits??? & Triangle) from the top to the car park (If the snow reaches the car park) which are very nice whereas Papa runs tend to funnel together and become easily congested.

    There is quite distance by road between Papa and Turoa, with NP (National Park) between them (30mins to Ohakune & 10mins to Papa Village). Turoa ski field is a 20km uphill drive from Ohakune and Papa ski field is a 6km uphill drive from Papa Village. There is little or no night life at Papa or Papa village, a bit at NP (with alot of walking distance between places), and some at Ohakune with generally less walking distances then at NP.
     
  15. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    Have you tried Treble Cone which is a 20min drive from Wanaka and has nice intermediate/advanced/expert runs? Wanaka is about a 45min drive from Queenstown.
     
  16. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    if you don't mind rope tows then there is Broken River & Craigeburn (club fields). fly into Christchurch to drive to these two.
     
  17. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    a couple of others are Ohau, Dobson, Round Hill, and a couple of others. nice to have choices.
     
  18. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    *nutcrackers
     
  19. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    there is always Rainbow (if there is snow and easy drive from Christchurch) and it has a chair lift.
    Donzah said this was his favourite SI ski area. Donzah, is that still the case?
     
  20. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Well it is a fave . Thats for sure.
    No chairlift there. Thats gone now. Tbar up the main face.
    Its part of my fave part of NZ. Marlborough.
     
  21. Livo

    Livo First Runs

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    I've never skied at Rainbow, but the Marlborough is also my favourite part of NZ, can't beat it!

    As someone mentioned earlier, have you tried out the resorts in Wanaka? You wouldn't get bored spending the week at Cardrona and Treble cone! I think the shuttle to TC was free and Cardies was $30 return or something like that. Not sure what your idea of 'cheap' is in terms of accomodation, but I had a quick peak at Airbnb and saw some private apartments/guest suites for $600-700 a week! I think this very reasonable for NZ standards and Wanaka is sooo beautiful, a close second favourite place in NZ. We stayed in Wanaka for just under a week before heading up to CHCH to see the rellies and wish we had've stayed longer.

    In saying that, out of all the resorts we went to that trip, we had the best time in Mt. Hutt! Could've been because we got lucky with the conditions though.

    On my next winter NZ trip, I would probably stay in CHCH (you could consider Methven or another small town near there to be closer) and then have the choice of Mt Hutt or the surrounding club fields! Check out http://skitheclubbies.nz/
    I had a look at Airbnb in Methven as well and it looks reasonable!
    After a few days drive up to the Marlborough region, check out Rainbow and enjoy the serenity :cool:
     
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  22. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Does snow at rainbow (when it wants to)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Belly likes this.
  23. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    South Island also has these...
    [​IMG]
     
  24. GlenH

    GlenH Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    Mt Ruapehu is an awesome mountain but it can be plaugued by bad weather which can close it for several days in a row, not something you tend to get in the South Is and never in Oz. However when the sun comes out there is nothing like it in Australia or New Zealand.

    As others have mentioned weekend crowds can be awful as half of Auckland & Wellington descends on either side of the mountain (Whakapapa or Turoa).

    If you have no car you'll need to check shuttle buses and they can get busy on weekends too.

    Ohakune is the main town and is nearest Turoa. National Park is a sleepy village and nearer Whakapapa.

    The train from Auckland or Wellington runs 3 days per week (in daylight hours) and stops in both towns. In Ohakune it stops right near the Powderhorn Lodge, highly recommended. However the main shops and most eateries are a couple of km up the road.

    https://www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/northern-explorer/

    You can read about our 4 recent stays in Ohakune through this link:

    https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/our-2014-trip-to-mt-ruapehu.67992/
     
  25. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    ...
     
    #25 KL., Mar 15, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
  26. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    You think so! Unfortunately with Ruapehu there are no real (or rarely ever) powder days due to the wind which beats the snow to death and compacts it.

    SI BR/CB combination sounds good although rope tows dampen the excitement.

    SI TC/Mortatapu Chutes/Holywood & further over is very nice, especially with fresh powder snow, although the long walk up & out dampens the excitement
     
  27. dan72

    dan72 Hard Yards

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  28. Hermannator

    Hermannator One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    You're an intermediate so stick to the commercial fields... (club fields such as Craigieburn are not groomed)

    Expect to lose 20% of your days in NZ due to high winds. Shutt is so-called for a reason, but try to go there if you can. Also Porters is worthy, alongside Treble Cone, Cardrona and Ohau
     
  29. Gimp

    Gimp One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I hear Rainbow is going to have a couple of ace patrollers there this season, go Tracey.
     
  30. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    Does anybody know how the High Noon chair (Turoa) repair is progressing? Will it be ready and running this season?

    Does anybody know how the Gondola (Papa) build is progressing? Will it be ready and running this season?
     
  31. GlenH

    GlenH Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    We've had some memorably (good) days at Mt Ruapehu but after 4 visits concluded it is too risky weather wise to visit from Oz, in winter at least. Some say spring is the time to go but I've had closures then too, although some magical days as well.

    Yes, see: https://help.mtruapehu.com/hc/en-us...e-High-Noon-Express-be-operating-this-winter-
     
  32. essjaywhy

    essjaywhy One of Us

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    ski the SIs thru Winter,
    buy a flexi domestic air ticket to Akl to then ski Rua in the fine windows thru October.
     
  33. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    Received the following reply from the Taupo Depot Customer Relations Team
    • The High Noon Express [Turoa] is all fixed and ready to go for this winter.
    • The Gondola [Papa] is also due to be up and running for 1st June. You can find updates of the gondola construction at: https://www.mtruapehu.com/gondola.
    • The gondola will not have a mid station and will take you directly up to the Knoll Ridge Chalet. The 1.8km trip from the base station to the Knoll Ridge Chalet (accommodation or cafe???) will take approximately 5.01 mins.
    Since they are spending all that money, shame they didn't make Knoll Ridge Chalet a mid station and continue the gondola upto the same height (or higher) as the Knoll Tbar

    GlenH, where are you skiing this season?
     
  34. KL.

    KL. One of Us

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    what is SIs?

    does 'fine windows' mean fine days/periods? unfortunately, available periods of time is always an issue!
     
  35. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    southern lakes
     
  36. GlenH

    GlenH Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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  37. nzskier98

    nzskier98 First Runs

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    Ive always skied ruapehu and have usually had a pretty good day no matter the queues (which can be particularly bad - especially holidays). I find the biggest pain is actually getting up the damn mtn due to the carpark structure up there. As long as you have your gear sussed (we get ours from snowscene.co.nz) and buy your pass online - just get up early and head straight to the top lifts to avoid the lower lift queues. All is well!
     
  38. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    Do the New Zealand school holidays happen at the end of September and start of October like we have in Oz? Would this be a good time for an Aussie family to visit?
     
  39. Undies

    Undies Pizza! Ski Pass: Gold

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    The queues aren't quite as bad as Perisher on a weekend.
     
  40. essjaywhy

    essjaywhy One of Us

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    Yes from Sept 27.

    most South island fields shut from late Sept , only a few clubs, & hutt and cardrona try stay open thru Oct snow dependent. So you need to be flexible over destinations.

    Ruapehu comes into its own big-time from mid Sept.
    The new Whakapapa gond'y will massively alter patterns there once its tuned up and switched on daily :
     
  41. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    NZ...
    School holiday: Saturday 6 July – Sunday 21 July
    School holidays: Saturday 28 September – Sunday 13 October
    As mentioned 27 Sept would prob be your cut-off for down South, after that Ruapehu is on...
     
  42. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    Qld school holidays from Sat 21st of September so that week will avoid NZ school holidays.
    Sounds a good time to go to Ruapehu.
     
  43. jgm

    jgm Addicted

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    Unless things have changed recently, I would stay well clear of Turoa if they are fitting chains. Last time I was there when chains were required, they had a mobile hire service 2/3 of the way up the road, and were servicing about 6 cars at a time. At the same place, they were waving on 4 wheel drive cars. The result was stop start traffic all the way to the fitting bay which took nearly 2 hours to get to. Amyone with half a brain could see that the hire service should be at the bottom of the road where there is plenty of space for those who don't need them to get past.
     
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  44. grantn

    grantn Addicted

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    The reason I now always get a 4wd was a hard lesson learned on that road, at Turoa. On one really busy Saturday about 10 years ago I pulled into that chain fitting spot, half way up to Turoa. I was in a rush because I was stinging to get up the mountain. I pulled back out into the flow of traffic and about 100m after pulling out snapped one of my chains, because I had put it on so badly. I had to get out of my car and try to put broken chains back on (which was never going to work), in the middle of the road (I didn't have any space to turn the car around) now holding up at least 100 cars that were now beeping horns and abusing me. Since that day I have always paid extra and got a 4wd...........
     
  45. ScottGN

    ScottGN One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The location on the road of the chain fitting bays is dictated by snow level on the mountain though. RAL won’t want chained up vehicles driving on clear road, hacking up tarmac, ruining the chains and possibly damaging vehicles.
     
  46. Fuzzynz

    Fuzzynz First Runs

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    If you want to try the North Island then on a good day, nothing beats Ruapehu but those days are few and far between. Like others have said, you could spend a week sitting inside if the weather is bad. If you're looking at the Canterbury region then maybe consider Mt Olympus http://www.mtolympus.co.nz/ They have plenty of week & weekend packages. Hutt tends to be busy weekends and POW days (they DO have them occasionally...) There's plenty of scope in the area and you can base yourself out towards Springfield/Darfield (which will keep the accommodation cost down).
     
  47. jgm

    jgm Addicted

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    If the average kiwi isn't smart enough to fit his own chains, at least they should have the brains to separate the hire & fitting service. The day I was held up, I observed the half-assed way they were running the "service". They would load half a dozen cars into the bay, and then start servicing them one by one. Until all six had cleared the bay, they wouldn't let any more in. I pulled over to the side of the road and had my chains on before they had finished faffing about finding chains for the 1st one in the bay. From what I could see, they appeared to be only supplying ladder chains which take twice as long to fit.
     
  48. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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    Ruapehu is the Mt Buller of NZ. Its for snow play and city slickers. most of which never ever fit chains.
     
  49. ScottGN

    ScottGN One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    You’re doing the volcano a great disservice Draizuh. I think we can all agree though that probably about 99% of Australians and New Zealanders haven’t learnt how to fit chains, because they never have to do it.
     
  50. jgm

    jgm Addicted

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    I can't speak for other Australian resorts, but my experience at Mt Buller would say that you are way off the mark. The paid chain fitters get well under 10% of the available cars.