Turoa Lifts & Terrain

Turoa Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Turoa Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)1,600– 2,322 (722)
  • Average Snow Fall
    4.0  metres
  • Lifts (8)
    1 6-seater
    2 quads
  • Ski Hours
    8:30am - 4:00pm
    Late June - late Oct
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 40
    Longest run – 4 km
    Beginner - 20%
    Intermediate - 55%
    Advanced - 25%

Turoa Ski Resort Terrain

The terrain at Turoa Ski Resort on Ruapehu is well above the tree line and volcanic activity and lahar flows have played a large part in shaping the terrain into rocky outcrops, gullies and natural half pipes that make it interesting for freeriding. It’s also resulted in the Turoa Ski Resort having some bad choke points, particularly in the lower half which is quite narrow, whilst the upper part is much wider and more open.

Turoa Lifts

Turoa Ski Field has 5 chair lifts, of which only the 6-pack High Noon chair is high speed, whilst the 2 quad and 2 triple chairs are fixed grip. By European or North American standards, this sounds rather inferior but by New Zealand standards this lift infrastructure is luxurious! And in 2021 a gondola should be installed to replace the two lower lifts (Park Lane and Movenpick) to make it fully NZ lavish.

The top lift, High Noon, is the pride and joy of Turoa because it’s fast and provides plenty of lift capacity, which is required considering the popularity of the upper terrain. However it’s a shame that there aren’t also a few surface lifts in the upper reaches of the Turoa Ski Resort because there is significant traversing to get to outer runs, and the weather is often disgusting. The 6-pack chair lift can’t operate in high winds (unlike T-bars) and it is plagued by rime and avalanche risk, and the 2 mid-mountain lifts are only a little better. It would be interesting to see the stats on the number of days during winter (not spring) that the lifts operate.

The Turoa Ski Resort isn’t big into corrals and organising people into groups to fill the chairs, so sometimes the weekend lift queues are bigger than they need to be.

Lift Tickets

Lift passes are valid for both Turoa and Whakapapa. The lift tickets are expensive relative to many other New Zealand ski resorts, and they try to con more dollars out of you with first tracks passes too. At least there is plenty of infrastructure on offer, so you get good value if the whole ski resort is open. You can make major savings by purchasing a multi-day pass, but do you really want to do that considering the fickle weather? At least consider buying a 3 day flexi pass if you’re heading to Turoa for 5 or 6 days to give yourself some leeway for weather.

Beginners passes are available which are significantly cheaper.

Turoa Snow and Weather Conditions

There is no official statistic for the amount of average snowfall per season at Turoa, which makes one suspicious that they’re trying to hide something. It’s thought to be about 4 metres per season whilst others cite about 2.6m. Approximately 10% of the terrain’s snow cover is supplemented with snowmaking.

The chances of getting a dry face-shot powder day are pretty slim. It’s not like Australia or North America where you can go storm riding, and at Turoa the snow usually comes in with a very stiff westerly breeze which wreaks havoc with the snow quality and there are no trees to protect the snow. Then you have to wait for the ski field and lifts to open and by that stage, the snow is not fluffy powder. At least the southwesterly aspect helps with snow quality maintenance, but if a melt-freeze cycle has set in, the shady aspect is not a positive for the Turoa Ski Resort.

Considering the wind loading of the snow, the patrollers need to put in a lot of avalanche control work, which includes managing all the slopes above the resort.

Turoa Skiing for the Beginner

Turoa Ski Resort is a great mountain to embark on your skiing or snowboarding journey. The well-protected “Alpine Meadow” adjacent to the base elevation car park is the ideal playground for beginners. It has just the right inclination to keep you moving and offers a nice stopping zone at the bottom. There are two easy-to-ride lifts in this area, a magic carpet and a platter lift, and it’s a dedicated learning area free of hoons and experts showing off. Beginners also love this area because it’s very sunny (but it’s hard for the resort to make and keep snow). When the gondola is built, the novice area is likely to move up to higher ground.

Once you’ve mastered the beginners’ area, you are free to move up to the “big” mountain. There you’ll find at least three other beginners’ trails, including the delightful Wintergarden area which meanders around the resort’s snow making dam. Take care when you return to the base area, because the narrow run gets very congested.

Intermediate Skiing and Snowboarding

At Turoa, intermediate skiers and snowboarders have 55 percent of the mountain at their disposal. The blue runs can be found all over the volcano and some of the runs are nice and long, and when it’s icy the runs are particularly speedy! Intermediates should also take care when returning to the base because a major choke point exists, which is further exacerbated by the allowance of out of control snow bikes.

Terrain Park

Turoa has lots of natural terrain suitable for hucking as well as designated freestyle terrain parks off the High Noon Express. The park usually has boxes and rails and some jumps, and a pipe may be created. The mountain operations team often have other weather related foci in the height of winter, and more effort is put into park formations during spring than winter.

Advanced Ski and Snowboard Terrain

As is typical of volcanoes, most of the black runs can be found in the upper part of the resort. They also tend to be on the peripheries of the ski area so the transport in and out can become rather tedious, especially considering that 2 lifts are required to get in another lap.

The trail map doesn’t different between single and double black diamond runs, so hopefully it’s a fine day so you can scope out a line in one of the nice open bowls.

Expert Skiing Turoa

Short rocky escarpments provide some technical challenge in the form of chutes and drops, pending adequate snow. Piste and off-piste are blurred together, so there’s plenty of room to play. The Organ Pipe Chutes are a favourite even though you’ll potentially find just about anything, from pockets of powder to patches of unforgiving ice, and everything in between – all in the same run!

Turoa Sidecountry & Backcountry

There are two lift accessed sidecountry areas at Turoa. The one on lookers’ left is called Solitude, a splendid wide open slope just beneath Mangaturuturu Glacier. It offers nearly 700 vertical metres of skiing and riding bliss.

Glacier (lookers’ right) is a bit trickier. It involves a decent traverse from the top of High Noon Express, and it’s easy to overshoot the exit and end up way below the car park.

And on a nice weather day it is possible to hike (or tramp as the kiwis like to say) up above the lifts. This upper part of the mountain is sacred (not sure why the lower part isn’t) so you’re not supposed to go up there, but lots of people do. A vertical ascent of 470 metres (roughly 60 minutes if you’re fit) will take you to the Mount Ruapehu crater lake where you can take a picture, have a snack, ponder life’s many little questions, all in blissful solitude, then ski or board back down to the ski field. Wicked eh?

As with all ski resorts, the backcountry areas are not patrolled or avalanche controlled, and you should always be kitted out with avalanche gear and ski or ride with at least one buddy.