A couple of decent snow storms and skiers and boarders are getting excited - checking their gear, watching the forecast, planning trips.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts intends to open its Happy Valley beginners' area on June 2. In the South Island, Mt Hutt in Canterbury is aiming to open on June 8 and The Remarkables near Queenstown on June 9.

About 10cm of snow fell overnight at the base area of Whakapapa skifield.

With snow falling to low levels since the weekend as storms sweep in from the southwest, skifields have started posting pictures on social media to fuel the pre-season enthusiasm. Their countdown to winter has begun.

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The base area at Whakapapa ski and boarding area reported snowfall of about 10cm last night and today.
The base area at Whakapapa ski and boarding area reported snowfall of about 10cm last night and today.

Things were different a century ago when there were no social media, organised skifields didn't exist in New Zealand and only a few hardy types got among the white stuff.

That didn't stop the Auckland Weekly News, a picture-driven paper, from having a vision of what might come.

The edition of Thursday, August 8, 1918, promoted winter sports in Tongariro National Park, a mere 12 hours by train from Auckland.

Skiing near Mt Ruapehu a century ago, featured on the cover of the Auckland Weekly News. Photo / NZ Herald archives
Skiing near Mt Ruapehu a century ago, featured on the cover of the Auckland Weekly News. Photo / NZ Herald archives

"Winter playground for New Zealanders: skiing race in progress on the slopes near Mount Ruapehu," the cover picture was headed.

The accompanying story said: "The Tongariro National Park, in the North Island of New Zealand, offers unrivalled attractions, both for the New Zealander seeking recuperation after an industrious year and for the visitor from abroad eager to discover the beauties of the Dominion's mountains, streams, and forests.

"The district is easily accessible, being only about 12 hours train journey from Auckland.

"Up to the present, however, little provision has been made to attract visitors to the spot, and the Government is now being strongly urged to get plans ready for the building of a good hermitage on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu.

"The photograph reproduced gives an idea of the possibilities for winter sport in the national park."

The first recorded skiing in the area was in July 1913, near Waihohonu Hut, which is about 7km west of the Desert Road. Bill Mead and Bernard Drake reported "a glorious run down for about a mile to the hut".