There's two Ski Areas on Mt Ruapehu right? Wrong! There's actually a three. And the lesser known cousin on the wild east side is called Tukino.
The first time I ever went to Tukino was a super fine, fresh snow Saturday. I watched a road rage incident outside the Ohakune New World and chuckled to myself on two counts. Firstly I figured both parties would likely park next to each other at Turoa. And secondly, I was getting a few supplies for the day because I was heading to Tukino.
Cruising at Tukino
There'd been some great snow mid week, but that was like three days ago. How much fresh would still be around? Answer - heaps!!
We made it up the Tukino mountain road in a Subaru Outback. The road is pretty good with no big drop offs. There's some great photo ops of the Tongariro National Park on the way up. If there's been snow you'll need a decent 4wd and chains should always be carried.
And a couple of other surprises at Tukino! Cat skiing and on snow accommodation. There's three club lodges at the Ski Area and anyone is welcome to stay. Booking essential. And once the snow cover allows there's 300 vertical metres of cat accessed terrain. Believe me I've explored a bunch of Tukino and it is truly amazing.
On snow accommodation
Tukino faces east which means it gets the early sun and so the snow softens by mid morning. You'll find Tukino about halfway along the Desert Road between Turangi and Waiouru.
Seriously do your self a favour - visit the wild, wild east!!