Wintertime and the skiing is easy - at last.
After a long wait for the snow to arrive, crisp, clear days are finally providing perfect ski conditions for the start of the school holidays.
About 5000 people hit the slopes on Mt Ruapehu yesterday. Whakapapa got so much snow in recent storms that people were able to ski back to their cars in lower carpark 10.
WeatherWatch analyst Philip Duncan said the skiing would be very good for the first week of the holidays.
"Cold nights will lock in snow that has already fallen. And because temperatures are remaining below zero there will not be a great deal of melting."
The clear, cold days would continue until Wednesday, a welcome reprieve from the severe weather that has battered the country over the past fortnight.
A low approaching from the Tasman could bring more rain later in the week. "We're watching to see whether it turns into a nasty system," said Duncan.
The storms have moved off, leaving a massive rescue operation in their wake.
Thousands of injured seabirds have been dumped along the west coast of the North Island and strong winds blew others as far inland as Hamilton.
Conservation Department programme manager of biodiversity John Gumbley said about 1000 dead birds had been found along a 1km stretch at Kawhia. Anexa Raglan Vet Clinic nurse Donna Rickard said people had brought about 300 broad-billed prions to the clinic.
The fine weather this weekend should give the opportunity for birds to recover.
Seabirds can be left to fend for themselves in what is a naturally occurring event. If birds are found on the beach DOC recommends to leave them in a sheltered location. If the birds have been dumped some way from the coast they should be returned to the beach on the nearest fine day.By Frances Morton Email Frances