Thousands of skiers and snowboarders flock to Mt Ruapehu over sunny weekend

By Martin Johnston

Around 4600 skiers and snowboarders visited Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu. Photo / Martin Johnston
Around 4600 skiers and snowboarders visited Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu. Photo / Martin Johnston

Skiers and snowboarders flocked to sunny Mt Ruapehu in such great numbers today that the access road to Whakapapa ski area had to be closed.

And the weather looks promising again for tomorrow, with the possibility of some snow on Monday, reflecting the weather forecast for much of the North Island for a fairly clear day tomorrow and some showers on Monday.

"The Bruce Rd is closed as all carparks are full," Whakapapa declared on its website today.

"Today is a really busy day," said Ruapehu Alpine Lifts marketing manager Anna McLaren.

"We have over 5000 people at Turoa and 4600 at Whakapapa today.

"The carparks [at both ski areas] were full pretty early.

"It was a slow start to the season. We had a couple of really good storms and we've got an excellent snow base at both sides now.

"We've had a run of incredible blue-bird weather the last week."

The central North Island police, with an eye on the ski forecast, warned the anticipated large numbers of central North Island drivers over the weekend to keep their speed down, noting that some were pulled over yesterday for exceeding the limit.

Officers also appealed for snow safety and for people to stay within skifield boundaries unless they have the necessary backcountry skills and are travelling with at least one other.

This follows the rescue of two people in separate incidents this week in the Mt Tongariro-Ngauruhoe area.

MetService meteorologist Ciaran Doolin said the relatively mild, fine weather in much of New Zealand today is set to continue tomorrow.

A ridge of high pressure is in control of the North Island but parts of the South Island will feel the effects of another front tomorrow, with more rain forecast for the West Coast and it is expected to spread into Southland.

The forecast

Auckland - the odd shower tomorrow and evening rain on Monday
Hamilton - fine spells tomorrow and evening rain on Monday
Wellington - cloudy periods tomorrow with afternoon rain on Monday
Christchurch - increasing high cloud tomorrow, a few spots of rain on Monday
Dunedin - increasing high cloud tomorrow, chance of an early shower on Monday
Whakapapa - cloudy and fine tomorrow, snow developing on Monday evening
Treble Cone - snow tomorrow, early snow on Monday

- NZ Herald

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