Skiers flocking to mountains after huge dump of snow

By Chloe Johnson

Mt Ruapehu marketing co-ordinator Lacey Dandy said 12,000 people flocked to Whakapapa and Turoa to make the most of the 80cm fall. Photo / APN
Mt Ruapehu marketing co-ordinator Lacey Dandy said 12,000 people flocked to Whakapapa and Turoa to make the most of the 80cm fall. Photo / APN

The unusual snow blast that swept across the country this week blanketed ski mountains with fresh powder making yesterday the busiest day of the season.

But it also saw two airborne rescues racing against nightfall on Taranaki and Ruapehu.

A police spokesman said two skiers were brought out by helicopter after skiing outside the designated area at Turoa. He said another helicopter rescue came after a tramper on Turoa called for help after "misjudging the conditions".

Mt Ruapehu marketing co-ordinator Lacey Dandy said 12,000 people flocked to Whakapapa and Turoa to make the most of the 80cm fall, the largest snow fall since 2008.

"I've had people telling me it's the best snow they have seen in 20 years," Dandy said.

"It's amazing and dry, it almost feels like North American snow which is fantastic for here, we love it."

Mt Ruapehu also had the deepest snow base in the country: Turoa had 298cm and Whakapapa 182cm.

Auckland snowboarder Shane Golding said the atmosphere on Whakapapa was buzzing and people were keen to stick around for the apres ski.

"It's absolutely stunning today, bluebird-as, no wind and it's warm," Golding said.

He said the traffic on the way to the mountain was backed up to Ohakune as people tried to secure a spot on the slopes.

"The guy on the chairlifts said there was a massive line of cars but it seemed busier on the weekends of the school holidays."

In Canterbury, Mt Hutt ski area manager David Wilson said Cantabrians had finally received some good news this year.

"We had a late start with low snow and with what we have had in the region it's been a tough run. Then the ash cloud was thrown in so it's been a tough season. This has been a welcome relief for many people," Wilson said.

WeatherWatch analyst Phillip Duncan said the snow fall would ease but icy frosts were expected this morning.

- Herald on Sunday

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