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Four ski touring trips for newbies

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July 2018 Issue

Pisa Conservation Park, Cromwell

4-7hr, easy

The Pisa Range provides a great starting point for anyone new to ski touring. Located behind Snow Farm, the range’s rolling terrain, easy access and reliable snow cover makes it perfect for those still mastering their touring and skiing skills. For an adventurous day out, park at Snow Farm (buy a $10 pass and inform reception of your intentions), and head up to the summit of Mt Pisa. On the eastern side of the peak you will find some of the steeper runs on the range and stunning rock towers which you can ski between.

For an overnight or longer option, stay in DOC’s Kirtle Burn Hut or book the private Robrosa Hut ($150/night, sleep four) and spend a few days exploring the area. 

Fox Peak, Lake Tekapo, Canterbury

8-10hr, moderate

Fox Peak is a small club ski field located a short drive from Fairlie. It provides access to a number of touring options, the most popular being the summit of Fox Peak (2330m) via the north basin ridge. The south basin also provides tourers with good terrain. Those looking for more adventure can undertake the classic Fox Peak to Roundhill Ski Area traverse, just be prepared for a big day out. 

 

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A good touring trip on the Craigieburn Range is to Mt Enys from Porters Ski Area. Photo: Joe Harrison

Craigieburn Valley, Canterbury

3-6hr, easy-moderate 

The Craigieburn Range has five ski fields and, justifiably, it’s one of Canterbury’s most popular ski areas. For a fun day out, head to Porters Ski Area and buy a one ride ticket. After checking in with the ski patrol, head north along the summit ridge until you reach the neighbouring basin, called Crystal Valley. If you want to keep exploring, continue along the ridge until you hit Mt Enys – the highest peak on the range. To get home, return via Porters or ski to the bottom of Crystal Valley and walk to the road.

Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park

4-6hr, easy-moderate

With an average snowfall that puts most South Island mountains to shame, ski touring on Ruapehu is often possible from June to January, but September to November is generally the best time. Whakapapa Glacier, above Whakapapa ski area is the ideal place to begin. Take the Far West T-bar then skin towards the summit and return the same way. There are six main glaciers on Ruapehu; sadly they are shadows of their former selves, but they still provide great skiing. Another area for enjoying great skiing without too much effort is the slopes above and around Crater Lake, which can be reached after one-hour’s skinning from Whakapapa’s Far West T-bar or the High Noon Express at Turoa.

Given its unpredictable weather, and sheer size, you’d be advised to pack a headlamp, warm layers and plenty of food and water on any ski tour of Ruapehu.