Maori legend has it that Mt Taranaki once stood with the three central north island volcanoes. But in a great battle Taranaki was defeated and sulked off to be alone by the sea. This lonely peak stands at 2518 metres and is home to Manganui ski area. This small club field is a unique skiing experience. For starters you are on an active volcano and secondly you are right on the coast.
Snow and weather Rating: ❆
The low elevation of Manganui at just 1260 metres means it’s snow can be a quite inconsistent, however the lower half on the field is on tussock so only needs a few centimeters to open. As such, it is not unusual for Manganui to be the first field to open, shut a few weeks later, then open up again, when more snow falls.
Another factor to consider is ice, as Taranaki is so close to the sea it can ice up pretty good. However due to the low elevation it tends to thaw out in the afternoons. So starting your day a bit later is often a wise option.
The terrain around the T-bar is pretty mellow. However once you clip onto the the top tow things quickly escalate and the gradient gets steep. Up here you will find a series of gullies and ridges, all with a pitch of 30 to 40 degrees. There are a number of fun lines to keep you amused. It is also possible to drop to the right hand side of the tow, outside of the field. Alternatively there are numerous hiking options above the top tow.
Manganui is a good spot to start from if you are planning to ski from the summit of Taranaki. However this should not be undertaken lightly as it is still 838 vertical metres to reach the summit, with the terrain getting quite sporty nearer the top.
Manganui lift system consists of a T-bar, then a short access rope tow followed by a large nutcracker, which takes you up to 1680 metres. There is also a learner’s tow. Taranaki being a classic stratovolcano cone shape means the higher you go, the steep the mountain gets.
Manganui has NZ’s cheapest day pass at $45 non-members and $25 for members. The field has on mountain accommodation in the Manganui Lodge for up to 33 people at $45 for non-members and $25 for members.
From the small town of Stratford, take Pembroke Road toward the mountain, look for signs East Egmont/The Plateau. Keep following the road into the Taranaki National Park to reach The Plateau. It is a 25-30 minute walk from the Plateau car park to the ski field across a rather scenic gorge. You will need to carry your gear a short distance to the goods lift. Want more information on getting there
If you do find yourself at Manganui with no snow, don’t despair. What the Taranaki region lacks in consistent snow it more than made up for in, it’s consistent surf.