My happy place: Annah Dowsett - Mt Ruapehu

By Bronwyn Sell

Annah Dowsett is the customer relations manager for Mt Ruapehu

Annah Dowsett on the slopes with her daughter Ruby.
Annah Dowsett on the slopes with her daughter Ruby.

Anywhere on Mt Ruapehu is my happy place. I was born in Ohakune and I've grown up skiing here.

My earliest memories are of being up at Turoa before the ski field was here. A family friend was the developer of the ski area, so I came up with my parents. I must have been about 3 or 4, skiing around with little plastic skis attached to my gumboots while a helicopter hovered overhead as they decided that, yes, they were going to make a ski field there.

I remember skiing down the alpine meadow with my friends when I was about 5 or 6. There was a lot of freedom here for us.

I'm definitely a skier. I snowboarded a couple of times when I was living in Japan but found it really frustrating to be sitting around on my butt when there was good snow to be had.

I've been working here for about 13 or 14 winters. I started in 1991 as a snow hostess, wearing a pink one-piece outfit, and after a break I came back up here in 2000 into a management role.

I met my partner, Mike Smith, here on the skifield. He was with Whakapapa and I was with Turoa, back when they were separate companies.

The ski areas merged at the end of 2000 and I started working with him, and over the years one thing led to another and now we have an 8-year-old daughter. She was nicknamed "the merger baby", and people said we should call her Horopito, because that's in between the two ski areas. We called her Ruby.

We put her on skis at 3 and she'll ski anywhere with me now, with her bright-red curly hair and her pink helmet, which is pretty cool.

And she'll go for runs with her friends on her own. My heart still jumps into my throat a little bit sometimes, but I'd never let her know that.

When I'm not working, my ideal day would be spent skiing off-trail at Turoa, either in the glacier or "out west", as we refer to it.

There's some amazing skiing out there, really long runs. All you can hear is your skis in the snow, that whooshing sound, and your friends hooting and hollering when you get to the bottom.

There's no feeling like it, it's exhilarating, and I can't wipe the smile off my face. And you're also in awe of the giant you're skiing on.

It's a very spiritual place, and an amazing force of nature.

The Turoa and Whakapapa ski areas on Mt Ruapehu have opened for the season. See

- Herald on Sunday

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