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August 2014 Issue
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Temple sunrise

The first sliver of sunrise colours Mt Rolleston, with the buildings of Temple Basin Ski Field in the foreground. Photo: Jason Blair
Temple Basin Ski Field is located just west of Arthur’s Pass village. Park in the signposted car-park on SH73 and head up the marked route to the lodge buildings

Temple Basin Ski Field, Arthur’s Pass National Park

Temple Basin Ski Field is one of my favourite places in the world. I’ve had countless blissful days skiing here, with great terrain, friendly people, and no crowds. A huge part of the appeal is the breathtaking setting among the mountains of Arthur’s Pass.

You needn’t even strap planks to your feet to enjoy this magical place. While skiing brings most folk here, many venture up via the handy Temple Basin Track to explore the peaks and ridges of the area by foot. Summer or winter, it’s a straightforward way to gain access to some fun objectives. If you ask me, though, winter is by far the most stunning time to be here.

I especially love to be out and about early, as the sunrise just creeps over the ridge and begins to paint the surrounding mountains. You can go for an alpine start, and make the hour-long trip up the hill to the lodge in the pre-dawn. Alternatively, you can avail yourself of the modest but comfortable accommodation that the  ski field offers. A warm bunk, the option of dinner and breakfast, and great company in a friendly dorm-style mountain lodge is quite appealing. Lastly, you can stay up high, either in a tent or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a snow-cave.

However you decide to do it, make sure you check the sunrise time and set your alarm early. It’s tough to leave the warmth of a sleeping bag to trudge out into the cold, dark morning, but I’ve never regretted doing so. And if you’re staying in the lodge, there’ll be a hot breakfast waiting for you when you get back. Not to mention first tracks on the hill.

– Jason Blair