The 2020 ski season is rapidly winding down in the southern hemisphere with the last areas open in Argentina closing at the weekend leaving just a few centres open in Chile and Australia and half-a-dozen or so in New Zealand. Almost all of these will close over the next few weekends.
However two centres, Turoa and Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu on New Zealand’s north island have announced plans to stay open to mid-November if they can. The decision is said to be down to the management wating to give New Zealanders more ski time in a difficult year. That’s more than a month after most other ski areas have closed and only a few weeks before the start of summer in the southern hemisphere by the meteorological measure of the seasons.
“We decided that with the ski season being turned on its head by COVID-19 that we would extend the season – as long as snow permits. We know that it’s been a tough year for Kiwis and we wanted to offer as much time for everyone to enjoy the mountain as we can,” Jono Dean, the CEO of the Ruapehu alpine lifts which runs both ski areas, told local media.
Weather permitting Whakapapa will be open until November 15 (usually closes late October) and Turoa will be open daily until October 25 then midweek but not weekends from until November 16 (it usually closes a month earlier).
The opening does rely on snow conditions and the past few days have not been kind to Ruapehu with spring storms bringing rail and wind which damaged cover, however upper mountain snow is over 1.5 metres (five feet) and more snow is forecast later this week.
If it happens as planned it will not be the first time ski areas on Ruapehu have stayed open in to what they’ve dubbed ‘Snowvember” and there have been years when they have managed to open limited terrain at Christmas – early summertime in New Zealand.