Snow cadets ready to take on season
Mount Ruapehu’s slopes will open to snow bunnies this weekend the first ski field in the country to do so this winter.
Waitangi Patena and Caslo Winikerei are gearing up for their first ever season working on the mountain.
And given they live just up the road in Turangi, the pair said they were really excited to see the reaction visitors have to the mountain, especially those who’d never seen snow before.
‘‘I’m really excited to see the mountain surrounded with snow and people,’’ Patena said.
‘‘To see the enjoyment on people’s faces when they see snow - being able to be apart of that is just truly an honour, Winikerei added.
The pair are doing a cadetship with Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) of which there were 200 applicants.
They started a couple of weeks ago and have learnt the ins and outs of how the mountain is run.
Once the mountain is open, they - along with the 19 other cadets - will spend the first six weeks moving around all the different departments to get a feel for how they all work.
Patena’s goal is to reach human resources while Winikerei will be heading to the OPS department where he will be working on the roads and with the chairlifts.
Patena, who is the oldest of the cadets at 26-years-old, said the group she was working with had made the transition onto mountain life an easy one. ‘‘Our crew is awesome. They are so open to ideas and suggestions and just wanting to give things a go,’’ she said.
Winikerei praised the crew, and his new role with RAL, with bringing him out of his shell.
‘‘I used to be really quiet but working for RAL has me opening up,’’ he said.
‘‘It takes you out of your comfort zone.’’
While the cadets have been busy preparing for the start of the season, so too, has the ski field’s latest investment.
The snow factory has been been running non-stop since it’s installation on April 14, making sure Happy Valley is full with the white powder.
Happy Valley has undergone a major transformation - including new carpet lifts and a fully rehashed bistro - and will be ready to show off most of the changes on June 3.
Caslo Winikerei and Waitangi Patena are gearing up to welcome the first visitors for the season to Moutn Ruapehu this Saturday.