Snow sports lovers are in for an early treat after the Whakapapa Ski Area announced it was opening its Happy Valley beginner runs for free a day early.
The Mt Ruapehu official ski season in the Whakapapa and Turoa fields had been due to begin on Saturday.
But heavy falls in the past week had led the operators to announce they were opening early on Friday for a fun day between 11am and 2pm.
"Big news, we're opening tomorrow in Happy Valley and it'll be absolutely free! Check it out," said a post on the Mt Ruapehu, Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Areas Facebook page today.
Whakapapa operations manager Steve Manunui said in a video posted to the page, the decision had come after a massive storm cycle over the past 10 days.
"We accumulated well over 40-50cm, it's been awesome and a fantastic start," he said.
"I reckon we're gonna be the first commercial resort to open for the 2018 winter in Australasia."
Manunui expected a crowd of enthusiasts to get in early by taking a day off work and heading to the field.
"The weather is looking awesome, Happy Valley - we're gonna get all of it open," he said.
"We're gonna get a couple of little path features up for you guys as well."
He said the cafe and rental shops would be open, with normal prices charged for rental equipment.
The field would also be accepting donations to try to help keep the Taupo rescue helicopter service operating.
"Then Saturday we roll into what we have planned for our opening, [it will be] business as per usual," Manunui said.