The symmetrical volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki (also called Mt Egmont) rises dramatically above the plain, thrusting up its snow-capped peak as a beacon to snow lovers.
Manganui ski field sprawls over the eastern flanks of this silent sentinel, offering the sort of spine-tingling volcanic-slope skiing that pushes the pulse rate to the max. Exhilarating rapid descents of up to 1 km can be made from the top tow elevation of 1,680 metres. When conditions permit you can make the invigorating two hour climb to the summit crater, take in the astounding panoramic view to Tongariro National Park and then glissade 1,300 metres down through virgin snow – the ultimate alpine adventure.
This delightful field is operated and funded by the Stratford Mountain Club, whose members make visitors very welcome. The season runs from June to October, and as the field is covered with a soft cushion of alpine moss, it needs only 10 cm of snow cover. Snow ratings are 5% beginner, 30% intermediate and 65% advanced, and the lifting capacity is provided by 1 T-Bar and 3 rope tows.
Manganui ski field is a 45 minute drive from New Plymouth, where you can obtain all your ski equipment needs, and 15 minutes from Stratford. The access road from Stratford runs 18 km through beech forest to the car park. From there it is a 20 minute walk to the ski field, and 5 minutes along the way is a ‘flying fox’ goods lift that conveys equipment across the Manganui Gorge.
The on-field lodge is available for overnight stays at reasonable rates and offers comfortable chalets and an excellent à la carte restaurant. Stratford has a wide selection of places to stay and an attractive pub scene.
Ski hire is available from the Kiwi Outdoors Centre in Ariki Street, New Plymouth, while snowboard hire is available from Seasons Cheapskates in the Burger King Complex.
The upper slopes of Manganui present a compelling challenge for the adventurous skier or boarder. It’s a rollicking ride on the volcano.