Visitors to Mt Ruapehu enjoying mid-summer snowfall
Packing snowballs is an odd activity in the middle of summer. But with 10 centimetres of snow falling on Mt Ruapehu overnight, tourists are making the most of it.
"We had a reasonable bit of snow last night, probably about 10cm," Whakapapa general manager Steve McGill said on Friday.
"It's like the beginning of winter – but it's beautiful up here with the snow and blue sky," he said.
"It's a bit different to all you people out there lying on the beach. Here I am standing in the snow, freezing, so yeah."
The snow had come right down to the base of the ski area.
With conditions clearing on Friday morning, chairlifts at Whakapapa had been open from midday.
"We're doing around 350 people a day, if you average it out over a week. Some days we're getting 700 people up here," McGill said.
"If you're a visitor to the area, get in the chairlift and come up to the Knoll Ridge Cafe to enjoy the views and have a meal up here. Or you can book in a guided walk to the Crater Lake."
However, ongoing summer rainfall meant Ruapehu Alpine Lifts had to close the skifield far more often than previous years, he said.
Tourism operators at the Tongariro Alpine Crossing have been feeling the effect of the odd weather too.
Jared Thomas from Tongariro Expeditions said businesses all over the region had been affected.
"This whole summer's been a non-event for us," he said.
"As an operator, we have noticed a massive drop-off in numbers. Even on the days you are going, we're seeing fewer numbers because travellers are changing their plans and doing something that's less dependent on weather."
Thomas estimated a 30 per cent drop in business for tourism operators because of bad weather so far.
"You've got the accommodation, the shuttle companies, and you've got all the other support services that go along with those.
"But you can't do anything about it. That's the weather and that's that."
In Queenstown, footage posted on Facebook from The Remarkables shows snow falling at 2.30pm on Thursday. At that stage 5-8cm had fallen on the ground around the ski area.
MetService forecaster Tuporo Marsters described the snow as "a parting gift" from the bomb low that brought prolonged heavy rain and severe gales to parts of the country in recent days.
Some snow had also fallen in the Southern Alps, Tararua Range and the Ruahine Range, Marsters said.
"We had a cold night, a cool southwest flow. We had a trough move across the country early this morning. The freezing level's dropped down enough in the right conditions," Marsters said.
The temperature was right and there was enough moisture for snow. "It's a novelty."