By Laurilee McMichael
UM, look at me! I’m skiing!’’ Less than two hours. That’s all it took to transform our 7-year-old, who had never strapped on a pair of skis, into a snow-ploughing whizz. Two hours in the capable hands of Chris from Mt Ruapehu’s Snow School, and this girl was able to ski in control and snowplough to a halt at will. Two runs down Whakapapa’s beginner slopes at Happy Valley and she was able to turn as well.
Our 4-year-old, noted for his stubbornness and refusal to do things any way but his, proved a tougher nut to crack. But although he wasn’t quite ready to go solo after his lesson, he had learned how to balance on his skis, keep his weight centred and, more importantly, was enjoying himself.
Having struggled to teach kids on school ski trips, and then seen how quickly they pick it up when taught by instructors, on our first-ever family ski outing to Mt Ruapehu, it made sense to go with the professional approach. Mt Ruapehu offers a Discover deal where, for $108 for adults or $78 for youth, you or your child receive a beginner’s area lift pass, fullday ski hire, a group lesson and a sightseeing chairlift ride. It’s a great way to master the art of skiing, especially if you have limited time.
It was also a stress-free parents’ option. Hubby and I deposited Miss Seven and Master Four at the ski school and enjoyed plenty of peaceful runs down Happy Valley with our older son before collecting the younger two after a nearly two-hour lesson.
By the end of the afternoon, everybody had had a blast, the kids were worn out but happily babbling about their new hobby and we were pleasantly surprised at just how easy the experience of getting the family on skis had been. Of course, it helps that Mt Ruapehu and its staff are old hands at this type of thing, and with thousands of skiers hitting the slopes on busy days, are well set up to provide the total ski experience.
Other kids having fun at Happy Valley photo credit : Tommy Pyatt
We discovered on arrival that our son’s mittens were too small. No problem to pick up a new pair at the ski shop. Master Four lacked waterproof pants. Plenty available to hire. The cafes are well-stocked and the coffee is good. And the little touches, such as a water-fountain at the Happy Valley Bistro to refill your water bottles, or the ski rental staff assisting the children on and off with their ski boots, do make a difference. If you’ve never skied before, opting for the Discover package makes it easy. But beware, you’ll be hooked. Our kids certainly are.
If you’ve never skied or snowboarded before this is the package for you. It is suitable for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 youth) and costs $299
■ Beginners area lift pass (to ride lifts in Happy Valley at Whakapapa or the Alpine Meadow at Turoa)
■ Full day hire of skis, boots and poles; or snowboard and boots
■ 1h 50m discovery ski or snowboard group lesson. Note: If there are 4 or less people in the group lesson, the lesson time will be reduced accordingly
■ One sightseeing chairlift ride per person (to ride the Centennial and Waterfall Express chairlifts at Whakapapa or the Park Lane Chairlift at Turoa as a foot passenger)
■ Visit Mt Ruapehu.com for further details.
■ Terms and conditions: Offer excludes Saturdays and schools holidays. Please note that lessons are restricted to first in first served.
This deal can be booked through the Taupo and Turangi i-SITEs.
Or on line at www.GreatLakeTaupo.com/grabit