The undiscovered ski field you need to visit this winter

Allison Yee
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

Winter is here, and apart from living in a uniform of Ugg boots and trackies and comfort-eating carbs like bikinis don’t exist, the chilly weather means one thing – it’s ski season.

While those in the know might head to the ski fields in NSW and Victoria, or take the short three-hour flight to New Zealand’s South Island for the closest runs, insiders have revealed there’s actually another destination that’s largely off the ski bunny radar.

Mount Ruapehu is located on New Zealand’s North Island and boasts a skiable volcano. Photo:  Ruapehu Alpine Lifts

Snow lovers would know all about Queenstown’s Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Wanaka, but some say it’s all about the NZ’s North Island when it comes to avoiding the crowds.

Yep, that’s right. We didn’t know you could ski the North Island either. Oh, and that you’d find the country’s only skiable volcano, Mount Ruapehu there too.

Turoa makes up one of the ski areas on offer. Photo:  Ruapehu Alpine Lifts

For those keen to explore, Mount Ruapehu is made up of two areas – Whakapapa and Turoa – and covers 550 hectares of terrain.

Those still wobbly on their skis or with little ones in tow will love the Happy Valley beginners area (hello, easy-to-use carpet lifts), while those who have absolutely zero interest in donning any semblance of ski gear can sip hot chocolate at New Zealand’s highest café, Knoll Ridge. That trek up the hill will be even easier come next June, with a new gondola opening next year, moving 2400 per hour from the base of the hill up the café.

The 400-seat Knoll Ridge eatery has won architectural awards and is the highest cafe in New Zealand.Photo:  Ruapehu Alpine Lifts

Keen to immerse yourself in the relaxed Kiwi ski culture? You’ll definitely get that here, with 95 percent of Ruapehu’s visitors coming locally. Translation: that makes for much less crowded runs during the week when the locals head home after the weekend.

Aussies keen for a clear run will love the fact that Whakapapa is largely frequented by a domestic market.Photo:  Ruapehu Alpine Lifts

If you’re like us and hate planning for trips – until you see everyone living their best holiday life on Instagram and get massive FOMO – there’s an added bonus. Mount Ruapehu’s ski fields are open until 22 October, giving you plenty of time to save your pennies and convince your crew to get their ski on.

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