The cold southerlies making their way up the North Island will bring smiles to the faces of the hundreds of ski bunnies about to hit Turoa's slopes for the start of its season today.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts marketing manager Mike Smith said snowmaking facilities were working overtime for the 4000 people expected over the weekend.

Staff have also been working on trails on the lower and upper mountain which both have a 105cm base of snow.

Mr Smith was hopeful Turoa's six-person High Noon Express chairlift would open some time this weekend.


"That means we could have top-to-bottom skiing from just about day one which I don't think has ever happened before," he said. "The upper mountain base this time last year was probably zero. This is my 11th season and this has been the best upper mountain start I have seen."

Ruapehu's other main skifield, Whakapapa, has only a 50cm base but should open next weekend.

Mr Smith said a record season pass sale saw 24,500 sold for this year - well up on the 18,000 sold last year.

About 12 per cent of these season passes were bought by Australians.

"Last year we had all that snow but we didn't have a lot of open days so if we can get off to a good start this year that can only be a good thing."

MetService forecaster Vive Biukoto said there was more good news for skiers as more snow was likely at Turoa and on the Desert Road tomorrow. She said Aucklanders could wake up to frosts today but can expect a mild but fine 13C with moderate southerly breezes.

The All Blacks, who play France tonight in the second test in Wellington, could have the occasional shower to contend with as well as the obligatory cold southerly.

The rest of the North Island looks forward to a mainly fine but cool weekend with showers developing in the south and to the east.