Ski season comes early for Happy Valley
Thanks to savvy snowmaking systems, the ski fields opened a month earlier than planned over Queens Birthday weekend.
Despite the recent rain and warm temperatures, on Saturday Whakapapa's Happy Valley welcomed hundreds of skiers and snowboarders.
This season New Zealand's only Techno Alpin SF210 All-Weather Snowmaking System allowed the ski area to make sufficient snow.
And people came from all over once they'd heard it was open for business.
Veronica Hennig, partner Tom McCallum and their two boys made the trip up from Wellington.
The family have season passes and said they would make the most of it with the "not too far" distance to travel.
"It's very exciting. We were looking constantly at the website and following the webcam to see how much snow the mountain was getting," Hennig said.
The family came up on Thursday night and met up with friends from Auckland.
Hennig said her partner was a keen skier and wanted the kids to learn.
She said the mountain looked busy, but there were no queues.
"We expected it to be busy with only one part of the snow field open, but it's been okay."
People were treated to a complimentary breakfast pizza slab on Saturday morning from the new and updated Happy Valley Bistro.
Snow was also blasted into the Happy Valley Plaza for guests who weren't skiing or snowboarding.
"There is music, someone playing the guitar, nice atmosphere, and the cafe has a new menu," Hennig said.
"This season we've noticed a lot of changes, which is exciting. We can't wait until everything is open."
Mt Ruapehu chief executive Ross Copland said he was proud of the hard work the team had done to transform Happy Valley.
"Visitors now have the unique opportunity to come skiing snowboarding over Queen's Birthday weekend."
The scheduled opening date for both Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas is on July 1.