A great weather forecast, early natural snowfall and good snowmaking conditions mean that Turoa Ski Area on New Zealand’s Mt. Ruapehu will be opening on Thursday, two days ahead of schedule. Accidental damage to a tower on the ski area’s High Noon Express lift, however, will likely delay opening of the ski area’s summit terrain despite nearly three feet of snow on the ground.
Turoa’s Alpine Meadow Beginners’ Area will be open, with other lifts opening progressively as conditions allow. The Alpine Cafe and Vertical Retail Store will also be open for business beginning Thursday.
Mt. Ruapehu marketing manager Mike Smith says Thursday’s forecast is looking exceptional, so the decision was made to open the season earlier than planned.
“We’ve got great snow coverage across the whole mountain. Up to 10cm of fresh snow fell overnight, and this morning we recorded a base of 80cm on the upper mountain,” says Smith.
“Snowmaking and trail preparation has also commenced in earnest on the upper mountain, and all signs look good for more lifts to open in the days following with snow in the forecast,” adds Smith. “Next weekend is the Ruapehu Mountain Mardi Gras in Ohakune so conditions should be ideal by then.” The opening of the High Noon Express at Turoa will be delayed due to damage to a section of a lift tower sustained overnight after the natural release of ice on the cable caused it to whiplash. The ski area has a commitment from the lift manufacturer, and a New Zealand based supplier to produce a replacement section very quickly, although ski area officials did not provide any time estimate. Weather conditions on the mountain are extremely poor for repair work today, but preliminary inspection of the lift shows no other damage.
Snowmaking and trail preparation continues at Whakapapa, which is on schedule to open on Saturday, June 26.