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Manganui Ski Area, Taranaki set to open for first time this season

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Manganui Ski Area may finally end its winter of discontent, as a late winter offers the private club an opporutnity to operate for the first time this season. Photo / Stratford Mountain Club

A ski field on Mt Taranaki has been biding its time all season, but after an Antarctic blast brought snow as far north as Taupō the Manganui Ski Area will open for the first time of the year – ending its winter of discontent.

However, the opening is still tentative, depending on the weather conditions overnight. If it rains overnight, “we can’t operate tomorrow even.”

Stratford Mountain Club spokesperson Rob Needs said of the chance of rain: “I’m looking at the mountain out my bedroom window right now and I can tell you that won’t happen.”

Should snow fall tonight, the ski field could operate Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Needs said he had his fingers crossed.

Taking to Facebook, he said: “We have snow!! Looks like the best cover of the season.” Only 10cm of snow is necessary for the ski field to operate.

“We keep our lifts ready to operate until the end of October,” he said, just in case of polar blasts like the last two days.

Manganui Ski Area has kept snowsports fans regularly updated on the snow cover on Mt Taranaki, with disappointments abound as enough snow never came.

“It’s a cold hard reality -we’ve had minimal snowfall this year. We’ve had snow a couple of times but it’s been marginal. The low levels of snow have impacted the North Island ski fields all round, we’re just lucky we don’t have significant fixed costs.

“We haven’t had any operation days this season. In the fifteen-plus years I’ve been involved at Manganui, that has only happened once or twice before,” Needs said.

Needs said the temperamental snow was due to the ski field’s low altitude, “potentially one of the lowest in the country – the top of our top lift is at the same altitude as the base at Ruapehu.

“We would have much rather had it in the first school holidays, not the last, but tomorrow we’ll get some sliding on it, and because it is school holidays we’ll have a boatload of people just wanting to play around in the snow.”

“We operate on volunteers – we’re a turnkey operation – and we don’t have permanent staff. So when we get big snow like this, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. People who ski Manganui treat it like good surf. When the snow’s there, you take advantage of it.”

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