The Ski Resort
In the race for Bragging rights to be the 1st Ski Area in New Zealand to open for the season, Taranaki’s Manganui Ski Area is always near the front. Why? The main reason is that the lower slopes of the ski area are a mowed tussock meadow, which only requires 30 cm or so of snow for enough of a base to operate. Manganui is a humble Ski Area by NZ standards. It can’t offer facilities of the commercial or big club field can, but its simplicity is perhaps its charm. And with lift ticket prices among the lowest in the country, the “no-frills” standard means snow enthusiasts can enjoy the ski area at far less cost than the rest.
The terrain consists of a small learner and intermediate slope contrasted by more challenging advanced terrain on its upper. The balance makes it interesting, and the step up to the advanced slopes is significant, however in good snow conditions the Top-Tow (a fixed grip “nut-cracker”) is not beyond strong advanced intermediates.
Manganui is owned and operated by Stratford Mountain Club, and relies on plenty of volunteer labour by its members to get operational every season. A recent development is the introduction of a Family Ski pass. Of course Manganui doesn’t have the same level of facilities, but for Taranaki locals, its close proximity and low cost offer amazing value.
Who says that skiing is expensive? Not at Manganui! Manganui doesn’t provide Ski/Snowboard Lessons, and Ski/snowboard hire is not available at the ski area, however New Plymouth winter snow sports shops have good quality Snowboard and Ski gear available for hire. Should a higher level of service be required, then Manganui’s big cousins at Mt. Ruapehu do provide it. Manganui attracts boarders and skiers from throughout the North Island. It would probably have the highest ratio of Snow Boarders to Skiers of any field in NZ.
To access Manganui Ski Area requires a nice 45minute drive from New Plymouth, with a sealed road all the way, to the Stratford Plateau Car Park. From there it is a 20-30 min walk into the ski area, with a goods lift at half-way. The walk is physical, but is a major reason why Manganui has less first aid incidents than other areas, with a good warm-up completed before the skiing/riding begins.