24 Jun 2011

Snow flurries at Mt Ruapehu bring high hopes for weekend

2:01 pm on 24 June 2011

Snow has been falling at Mt Ruapehu in time for the Mardis Gras celebrations marking the start of the winter ski season.

Up to 8500 people are expected at the weekend event in Ohakune.

Mt Ruapehu marketing manager Mike Smith said on Friday there was still not enough snow for skiing, but one of the chairlifts will be open for sightseeing from Saturday and people would be able to hire sleds and toboggan equipment.

Mr Smith was hoping the snow making machine would be in operation by Friday afternoon, and said the good news was more snowfall was forecast for the late afternoon or evening.

The Turoa skifield was scheduled to open on Saturday but is not likely to open for another week, while Whakapapa is on track to open on 2 July.