Ohakune, New Zealand

Photo: Pseudopanax at en.wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Pseudopanax at en.wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By late August, you’re over summer. You’re sick of heat-wave temperatures, always sweating, and clothes that show off too much skin. You’re ready for winter. Specifically, you’re ready to go skiing. So why wait? It’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

Turoa is on the highest mountain on the North Island and is the largest ski resort in New Zealand. Since opening in 1978, it’s become one of the best places to ski in the entire Southern Hemisphere. Narrow beginner’s trails and fast plains fill the lower ski fields. Natural pipes, steep drops, and terrain parks are higher up. The High Noon Express chairlift will whisk you to the top of the mountain in just 10 minutes. Plus you can hike (in your ski boots, of course) to a crater lake before skiing back down.

That’s right, a crater lake. Turoa is on the southwest side of Mount Ruapehu, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. A deep crater sits between the mountain’s three peaks: Tahurangi, Te Heuheu, and Paretetaitonga. In between large eruptions, the crater fills with water and becomes a lake. From this gorgeous spot, you see Mount Taranaki (another volcano), snow-capped peaks, and crystal lakes in the distance.

Photo: Ruapehu Country Lodge
Photo: Ruapehu Country Lodge

After your hiking day—oops, ski day—is over, follow winding Mountain Road down through a native forest to reach Ohakune. The small town, built on former Māori land, is a home base for adventure-sport enthusiasts. Trampers and bushwalkers use it as a starting point for Tongariro National Park. Fishermen and mountain bikers fill the lodges during the summer. While skiers, much like yourself, take over when there’s snow on the ground.

You’re staying just outside of town at the Ruapehu Country Lodge. The tranquil property abuts a now-quiet golf course. Chickens wander through the extensive gardens. Red wooden chairs surround an open fire pit. Plus a steaming hot tub, mulled wine, and a roaring fireplace are awaiting cold skiers at the end of the day. You quickly peel off your extra layers in your suite and head outside to warm up. This little burst of winter should hold you over for the next few months.

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