Key Points:

The Mt Ruapehu ski season in the central North Island has been extended after some of the best snow falls on record .

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, operator of Mt Ruapehu ski area, announced today that it would extend the 2008 ski season by three weeks, with Turoa now set to stay open until November 16.

Mt Ruapehu marketing manager Mike Smith said the continuous snowfalls from mid-July to late August were responsible for the extension.

"A few weeks ago we announced that Turoa had the biggest snow base ever recorded at any New Zealand ski area (455cm) and we are happy to say the base has since grown even further and currently stands at 488cm."

Mr Smith said the base was heading towards an unheard of 5m metres, with more snow predicted this week.

Whakapapa would close on Labour Weekend as scheduled but, provided the snow held on, it was likely to re-open for Christmas skiing from Boxing Day until early January 2009, Mr Smith said.

- NZPA