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A Canadian’s guide to skiing on Mt Ruapehu

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Mt Ruapehu

With September’s Health and Wellness theme at Madison, I thought I’d share a passion of mine that not only rejuvenates my body and mind but brings me a slice of my previous home, Canada.  New Zealand’s Mt Ruapehu (www.mtruapehu.com) offers challenging pistes and glorious views, all within a few hours’ drive of Auckland!

Mt Ruapehu has two ski fields; Whakapapa and Turoa.  If you feel like you’re a beginner to intermediate, Whakapapa has friendly blue runs that are open and wide (this means fewer opportunities to be a crash test dummy).  Turoa is ideal for those who are seasoned shredders and looking for black and double black diamond challenges.  It’s also worth noting that Turoa has a single, narrow lane going all the way down to the main base which can be a headache for beginners and experts alike!

Getting there:

The drive from Auckland to Mt Ruapehu is scenic with lush green farmland with sheep and cattle galore, but can prove to be challenging as it takes approximately 4 and a half hours.  For this kind of mission, it’s important to have friends that keep you entertained; whether that be the car DJ, an on-the-road quiz master, or just simply someone who stays awake with you!

Catching Zz’s:

Accommodation options are widely available on either side and hostels are a popular option, but if you have a group of 6 or more, I recommend booking a bach (holiday house for those still learning Kiwi Slang 101) which makes for a more comfortable, home-away-from-home stay.  Check out www.bookabach.co.nz or www.aa.co.nz for inspiration.

Checklist of my personal “must-haves”:

  • Safety first – although there are no trees to create hazards, the mountain is an active volcano which means exposed scoria (volcanic rock); so please wear a helmet.
  • Sunscreen – it’s very true what they say; the sun in New Zealand is not like the others! Also consider lip balm with SPF.
  • Snacks – food on the mountains can max out your credit card in a flash! So pack your pockets with muesli bars and nuts for sustenance, and if you’re feeling a bit daring, tuck a couple of PB & J or Marmite & cheese sammys.
  • Mobile phone – it’s not uncommon that someone strays away from the group, so keep your phone as close as possible to your chest (so you can feel the vibrations/hear it ringing). I also recommend getting a weather and shock proof case; not only to protect it from the elements, but it also means you can take photos and videos with peace of mind.

Last but not least, have fun.  Take all that NZ and Ruapehu has to offer remembering that a spot of fitness matched with a good, hearty laugh will boost your immune system!