Pics from our trip to New Zealand: ski Turoa (Mt. Ruapehu)

Phew, it's hot today, boy I wish I were back at this place! Today I finally had a chance to get the photos from our trip off my camera. We had such a great time in Ohakune this year. We were joined for two nights by my brother and his two boys. It was so cool to be on holiday with them. I think it was one of our first family trips away together. For the remainder of the time it was just me, the kids and of course Grandad.

A ski trip in New Zealand or any country is expensive, there's no doubt about it. Here's how we managed it.
We booked a very nice modern holiday home to rent. A holiday house suits us as we have the option of doing our own cooking and washing. The kids can be as noisy as we'll allow them to be. It's far superior and much cheaper than a hotel. This year we booked a home through Zolbet Holiday Homes. The house is new, very sunny, heated by a huge heat pump, has two bathrooms and three or four bedrooms. I thoroughly recommend it.

There's a handy little supermarket in Ohakune where we shopped most days for our main meals and snacks. There are several cafes and restaurants. We enjoyed morning tea at one called Utopia. Another night we had dessert at the Mountain Rocks Cafe and we returned there later in the week for dinner. The Suitcase was another family-friendly restaurant we liked a lot. Grandad and the kids stumbled upon a famous pie-baker: The Chocolate Eclair shop. A must-visit.Yep, we spent a lot of money on food. It made up the largest portion of our budget. But you gotta eat right?

Unfortunately when we visited the ski season hadn't been fabulous up until that point. There wasn't much snow in comparison to last year. We found Ohakune to be somewhat of a ghost town. At the tourist info centre we were told that it's a really happening place in SUMMER. That's awesome. Kayaking, hiking, tramping, mountain biking. Is that up your alley? I am firmly sold on skiing so I hope we can return one day.

The boys had improved since last year in their skiing and snowboarding. But not so much that they were willing to leave the beginners area. Still they seem to like it there and for me it makes it very easy to keep an eye on them. I did most of my watching from the cafe since I ... sprained my knee! Ouch, it's almost better but I wasn't able to ski much after it happened mid-week.

One thing you might not know about Turoa is that it is free to visit. Parking is free. The access road is free (although one day we needed to have snow chains put on which cost $30). To wander around on the ski field is also free. You only need to pay if you use any of the facilities, such as the chair lifts. You can even take your own food into the cafe area and enjoy the warmth and view. A cheap family activity is renting a sled. For $20 you can hire a sled for the day. For an additional $10 a day you may use the 'magic carpet' travelator to get back up to the top of the hill after each run. Making snowmen is free too!

Feel free to send me an email if I can give you tips for planning a ski trip in New Zealand's North Island.

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