Skotel Alpine Resort
Many of the walks and other activities listed in "Summer on Mt Ruapehu" can also be done in the wintertime. But once the rugged solitude of Mt Ruapehu is covered in snow, the Tongariro National Park transforms and overnight becomes a playground for skiers, boarders, alpine climbers and serious snow addicts.
While the beginners lifts usually open earlier the main lifts normally open at the beginning of July and skiing continues until the end of October, or later if it has been a heavy snow season. Skiing at Christmas is a very occasional bonus.
There are two ski-fields on separate sides of Mt Ruapehu. Both are operated by Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd and a single pass gives access to either field. Travel between them is possible, but it is not marked so it is only possible for those with a good knowledge of the area and in fine weather.
For further information on rates see their web site www.mtruapehu.com.
Whakapapa Ski Field
Just 6km up the road from the Skotel is the Whakapapa field - the largest in New Zealand. In the ski season here is a convenient shuttle service from the door of the Skotel to the base of the lifts. It is on the north side of the mountain so the weather is good and the temperature moderate.
The Happy Valley area of this field is a very large beginners area with two chairlifts and other tows. Three million dollars has been invested in the summer of 2001/2002 to provide assured snow here from the 23rd June in 2002 and earlier in subsequent years.
Turoa Ski Field
The Turoa field is about 40 minutes drive around the mountain from the Skotel. It is on the south side of the mountain so it tends to be colder and more often closed due to weather conditions. The township of Ohakune, at the base of the mountain road to the field is a lively centre of evening activity in the winter season.