Tip­top TUROA

Go Travel New Zealand - - Ruapehu - by Basso Brown

What did I know about Ruapehu a week ago? I was pretty sure it was a vol­cano and home to a cou­ple of New Zealand’s largest ski fields, Turoa and Whaka­papa. I have been ski­ing and snow­board­ing off and on for sev­eral years but had not got­ten around to ex­plor­ing any of the North Is­land’s fields, so when the op­por­tu­nity arose I grabbed it, and learned what a top des­ti­na­tion it is.

On ar­rival at Turoa ski field I was feel­ing hun­gry; break­fast seemed like a dis­tant dream and I was ready for a quick cof­fee and snack to recharge my bat­ter­ies. They must have read my mind as the Alpine Chalet Cafe, lo­cated con­ve­niently next to the begin­ners area, does an ex­cel­lent flat white. I al­ways like to warm up and the 120m long Magic Car­pet tow looked en­tic­ing, so af­ter my cof­fee I do three gen­tle fun runs be­fore head­ing for the chair­lifts. The car­pet is ba­si­cally a con­veyor belt - you just stand on it (on your board or skis) and it trans­ports you smoothly up the slope. It was fun to watch the an­tics of the lit­tle chil­dren rid­ing tobog­gans along­side the begin­ners slope while just re­lax­ing on the ride up.

Turoa is per­fect for all abil­i­ties – there is some­thing for ev­ery­one. I found my­self well catered for by the twelve groomed in­ter­me­di­ate runs that are gen­er­ally smooth and wide and link up to each other. I was a lit­tle rusty af­ter miss­ing out on the last cou­ple of sea­sons, so it was just per­fect to have a re­ally nice long run from the top of Aus­trala­sia’s high­est lift to the base area. I signed on for a group les­son and af­ter get­ting in a cou­ple of runs it’s time to meet up with the in­struc­tor. The hour and fifty-minute les­son is per­fect for me. I am an in­ter­me­di­ate boarder and keen to start mov­ing a lit­tle higher up the slopes, and af­ter­wards I feel like I am turn­ing a lot more flu­idly and re­lax­ing into it. Chat­ting with my in­struc­tor Sig­mund Chan (Siggy) he tells me he splits his year be­tween Turoa and Whistler in Canada. His first sea­son at Turoa was in 2007, and he has been back and worked five full sea­sons since then. Talk­ing to Sig­mund his

love for teach­ing comes across clearly: “I love teach­ing as I love see­ing peo­ple get stoked from this sport, any­thing from do­ing their first turns to land­ing a trick.”. Sig­mund’s teach­ing style to­tally ap­peals to me: he ex­plains things clearly and sim­ply and avoids be­com­ing too tech­ni­cal. He also takes the time to go over the best tac­tics to deal with vary­ing snow con­di­tions from ice to bumps and also gives in­di­vid­ual feed­back. Feel­ing on a high af­ter mak­ing good progress, it’s time to break for lunch at Turoa’s in­cred­i­ble Gi­ant Cafe lo­cated three-quar­ters of the way up the moun­tain. The at­mos­phere is warm and friendly, and there is plenty of hot food, fresh sand­wiches and espresso. I sit with a group of snow­board­ers and skiers who by all ac­counts are die hard Turoa reg­u­lars. Matt, a twenty-some­thing shred­der from Auck­land, tells me this is his sev­enth sea­son at Turoa, and it is still as ex­cit­ing to him as his first. He loves some of the more chal­leng­ing ter­rain Turoa of­fers such as the long­est ver­ti­cal drop in Aus­trala­sia (I im­me­di­ately make a men­tal note to avoid that!). There is a great en­ergy about this group of guys and girls, and it is fun to hear their sto­ries. Too soon, the sun is hang­ing a lit­tle lower in the sky, and it’s time to make one last run. The views from the moun­tain are breath­tak­ing, and it is good for the soul to take a few min­utes to ap­pre­ci­ate the nat­u­ral beauty sur­round­ing the high­est moun­tain in the North

The Cen­tral Plateau

IM­AGE: mtru­apehu.com

IM­AGE: mtru­apehu.com

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