“Mark it in your calendars and prepare to call in sick,” said ski operators, predicting the best snow of the season.
There are signs that many Kiwis did just that on Tuesday as people dropped everything in order to make the most of ski conditions.
Deluges of snow and bad weather across NZ meant that many ski fields were unable to open on Sunday and Monday.
However, yesterday operators reported “weekend levels” of visitors and suspiciously busy midweek slopes.
Epic snow conditions on Ruapehu were cleared in time for a midweek rush. Photo / Supplied
In Whakapapa and Turoa, RAL chief exec Jono Dean said, “Around 2,000 visitors headed up the mountain yesterday and we’re expecting more today.”
Those paying truant in the North Island were almost thwarted as roads were blocked to Ruapehu until midday.
Whaka Kotahi was advising “detour via Napier or New Plymouth” while SH4/49 was closed southbound. However it sounds like many persevered to visit the fresh powder and biggest snowfall of the year.
RAL reported top-ups of 40cm of snow across Monday night, with drifts reaching depths of 1 metre on parts of Ruapehu.
Ruapehu truants were almost blocked out of the mountain by snow. Photo / Screengrab
The resort was hard pressed “cleaning up from mother nature’s handiwork” for the Tuesday crowd which turned up in force.
In the South Island, Queenstown was looking remarkably busy.
“It’s pretty good we’ve got great snow and that’s brought a lot of people out,” said Paul Anderson of NZ Ski.
“There’s signs that a few domestic tourists have decided to travel, and we’re well clear of the school holidays,” he said.
Across on the East Coast, in Canterbury visitors were reportedly sent back down the mountain yesterday after car parks filled up early – a rare occurrence for midweek outside of the July holidays.
Mt Hutt opened to high demand after being snowbound on Monday. Photo / Supplied
“Mt Hutt had a fantastic snowfall on Monday. We were closed to clear the amount of snow we got, which was over 40cms. Today was almost as busy.”
While it was hard to tell how many guests might have been pulling a ‘snow-day sickie’ Anderson said he could sympathise with those who felt the need to drop everything to head to the snow.
“If you can do that, that’s when you get the best skiing.”
Snow conditions throughout Canterbury were excellent midweek. Club fields felt the pressure to make the most of the conditions.
Broken River was buried under over 30cm of snow on Sunday night and asked members to keep away on Monday for snow clearing and safety work. However they were determined to open yesterday. Taking to Facebook they wrote:
“Mark it in your calendars and prepare to call in sick; It will be a super rad pow day!”
A spokesperson for Broken River said Tuesday was “like a busy weekend day”, with 230 members turning up to the small club field.
The ski fields webcams showed full racks of skis at lunchtime, with many visitors coming back for Wednesday.
There was clearly nowhere else they’d rather be.