While we reported on Mt. Lyford resort closing and Mt. Ruapehu temporarily closing this southern hemisphere season, there is a resort in New Zealand that has not even opened yet—at all.
The Manganui Ski Area at Mt. Taranaki on New Zealand’s North Island is located 45 mins from the coastal town of New Plymouth which is on the west coast. New Plymouth is on track for one of the warmest winters on record. Records go back to 1944 NIWA principal scientist Chris Brandolino said.
The Manganui Ski Area is one of New Zealand’s many “club resorts.” Club resorts are still widespread in New Zealand. Though they are ‘clubs’ they are open to the public, but they run the resort not for profit but rely on volunteers. The focus is not on comfort but authenticity; they have a bit of an old-school skiing vibe. Lifts are all surface lifts, mainly rope tows and some t-bars. There is a very typical rope tow here referred to as the ‘nut cracker’ (no not those nuts, don’t worry, guys!). The nut refers to the anchor point with which the skier tethers themselves to the rope.
Mt. Taranaki’s ski resort, which is located in the Egmont National Park, is run by the Stratford Mountain Club. Club President Jenni Fletcher said they were close to opening in July and early August but the snow was too wet and it just was not possible. Some people did ski without lifts operating but 10 days of rain recently washed all the existing snow away.
Without cold airflow from the antarctic in the south and a marine heatwave over the coast in the north, things are looking rather bleak right now. The cost to operate the resort is low at only $732 (NZD1,200) a day, so it could pivot quickly. As a club resort, it is not motivated by profits but is run mainly by volunteers and grassroots ski enthusiasts.
Mt. Taranaki’s Manganui Ski Area goes from a base elevation of 4,134 ft (1,260 m) to 5,512 ft (1,680 m). The peak of the volcano Mt. Taranaki is at 8,261 ft (2,518m), making it the second highest elevation on New Zealand’s North Island. The resort has a skiable area of 59 hectares (145 acres) that is serviced by three surface lifts and a t-bar. There is a natural half-pipe and miles of backcountry skiing. The resort has no snow-making facilities but the resort has an average snowfall of 300 cm a year.
It has been known to open as early as May in some years but this would be the very first time in more than three decades that the resort has not opened to skiers and riders at all.
The resort is not unfamiliar with extreme seasons. In 2009, the resort opened as early as May 16, whereas in 2018 there was a late snow dump not enabling skiing until November.
There is still a chance for snow and should the region get snow, the resort could turn around to open quickly. Odds are against the little resort, as the southern hemisphere is heading into spring and days are getting longer. But we keep our fingers crossed for all struggling New Zealand resorts this season.