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Ssssh. There’s a secret, well it’s not a greatly kept secret, but it’s a little knowledge that you visitors to Taupo might not know about….
We have cats on our mountain.
Ok……. I’m talking Cat Skiing, and no, that does not involve strapping your favourite moggy to a pair of planks – but a mechanical caterpillar vehicle, ready to haul you up the mountain in style, to the less accessible runs and clean lines of Tukino skifield.
Our beloved Mount Ruapehu, situated just south of Lake Taupo, for those who don’t know, has the much mooted fields of Whakapapa and Turoa on which to snow-slide your way to heaven but little Tukino, tucked on the mountain's eastern slopes gets much less press, as a smaller, local delicacy.
Tukino is a slice of life as it used to be on New Zealand ski fields, no commercial interest here, it is run for members and the public, by the club. Sporting a slightly hair-raising 4WD access road, a small club hut, complete with roaring fire and only you and the snow to contemplate; queues are not in the vocabulary here and crowds, well, the only thing there is a lot of, are fresh tracks to be had. Whoopie!!
Although learners are always welcome (there is a learner area and lessons available), club fields are generally for intermediate and advanced skiers due to the, often lack of, ski lifts, which are mighty helpful when you need to concentrate on keeping your board/ skis in line and want to worry less about your transport. Tukino is no different, boasting two rope tows by which you have to lug your way up the hill. Once mastered the art of rope towing is simple but it can be frustrating for the less accomplished.
So for the intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders in the audience tonight, the good folk of Tukino have made life even easier with Cat Skiing- providing an awesome Cat to drive you up to the very fresh, untouched snow you’ve been longing for.
There is nothing like un-tracked snow, and NOT having to hike your heavy load up yourself, only sweetens the deal, so I’d highly recommend you get a few mates along and spend the day, shredding the gnar via Cat. Minimum input, maximum output!
You can purchase one cat ride with your lift pass (Adult Day Pass is $50) for $35 a pop, or if you prefer, get a five-ride concession card which you can use on any day you are at the field for $150. During mid-week, a group of ten can hire the Cat for the day at a cost of $2000, including up to five runs and an alpine barbeque. This would guarantee you and yours get the entire field to yourself. Added to this; the field is sheltered from the prevailing westerly wind and so can often be open when the rest of the mountain is closed. Boo-Ya!
And if you just can't bear the thought of leaving, there are accomodation and ski packages available too. You will stay on the mountain at a ski club lodge and recieve meals, although there is a roster, so you have to chip in and help with the chores. It's a really unique, kiwi experience and affordable, with stay and ski packages beginning at $95 per adult, per night.
Just think….. 500 vertical metres per run of sun-facing slopes delivered to you by Cat.
Tukino is just over an hours drive from Taupo. It is important that you do not attempt to drive up the Tukino mountain road until you have confirmed (via the Snowphone – 08 322 5000 or the online Tukino snow report) that the road is open.
Always check conditions before you embark on your day’s adventures and dress appropriately for the weather conditions which can change rapidly at Mt Ruapehu.
Bookings are necessary for some of the above. Click HERE for more information.