You would think it is a relatively simple thing to get to the snow.
Of course, there are a few necessities like skis, boots, poles, and warm dry clothing, but that can all be bought or rented when you get there, or if you are an enthusiast, you already have the gear.
So, you get in the car, set the navigator, and off you go. Till you get within 20 k of the ski field, it’s all plain sailing, everyone is excited, and mentally preparing.
Then it all starts to go sideways.
Those last few kilometers to the top are going to be arduous particularly if it’s been snowing and the roads are icy, but the weather is fine with blue skies and no recent snow falls. Were expecting a slow drive and a parking spot.
The road is open.
So late in the morning, a sign at the bottom of the mountain warns all the car parks at the ski field are full, but we venture on anyway.
As you can see, the cars are parked so far away from the ski fields, the prospective skiers have to almost run a marathon before they get there!
And for some odd reason, we picked the very day everyone in New Zealand also wanted to go up to the ski fields so parking, even near the Chateau Tongariro was gone and there were endless cars looking for parking spots and traffic wardens had their hands full trying to keep traffic moving
So, for us and everyone else, everything stops at Chateau Tongariro, and from there the only vehicles allowed up are buses.
It’s about 10:30 and we are advised the only way we were getting to see snow was to take a bus
Now, there are two types of busses. You can go up on a local bus, from Whakapapa Village that costs $20 a person which in the context of the cost of skiing not very much, but if you’re not, it’s quite expensive.
The second, one we were advised to use, operates from a place called National Park, about 9 km away, a snow shuttle that costs $6 each. The trouble is by the time we were ready to go there, to catch a shuttle, there were no more shuttles.
We did not know what to expect when we got to ‘National Park’, but being a railway station makes sense. It’s the only place with a very large carpark!
Oh, well, there’s always tomorrow.