If the weekend madness of Whakapapa and Turoa is too much for you, Tukino is probably the answer to your woes. Tukino is situated on the eastern side of Ruapehu, off the Desert Road. Although this field may be small, the offerings in terrain and uncrowded runs are definitely not. If you are a regular at Ruapehu it might just change your perspective on skiing in the North Island.
The turnoff to Tukino is signposted and is found half way along the Desert Road. When you first leave the highway you will see a number of signs, declaring NZ army’s testing range. Don’t worry as these signs are mainly just to keep Aucklanders out. After this, the track begins to head up hill. If you are in a two wheel drive it is best to stop and call up the Club for a ride up. However if you are in anything with ground clearance and 4wd you can continue to the base of the field.
Tukino has two consecutive nutcracker rope tows which culminates at 1900 metres. However this only gives you access to a portion of the greater field, as the field boundary extends up to 2020 metres. This lack of access is Tukino’s biggest flaw, for although this small field is fun, after a couple of hours you are going to get bored.
However Tukino’s members have come up with a couple of creative solutions. One being a portable nutcracker that is set up in the Banana Gully which greatly increases the terrain accessible by tow. The second is cat-skiing, which at $35 for the public and $20 for members, is probably about as cheap as cat skiing gets.
Backcountry Access Rating:❆❆❆
Tukino is a good place to access Ruapehu’s less traveled backcountry. If you’re up for an overnight mission there is the four bunk, Whangaehu Hutt, located at the top of the field.
It can be said that Tukino’s terrain is the perfect mix for all levels. This variable terrain is reflected in the stats, with an equal split between beginner, intermediate and advanced.
The east facing aspect of Tukino ski field, shelters it from the strong westerly weather systems which hit the other fields on Ruapehu. Tukino is less frequently closed due to bad weather, and the snow is slightly drier than the other Ruapehu fields. This being said it is important to remember that Tukino does not have snow making.
Comfortable on-mountain accommodation is provided in three modern ski lodges immediately adjacent to the field. The cost of staying at the Tukino Alpine Sports Club lodge is a bit of a bargain at $67.00 for non-members and $44.00 for members, including meals.
Dollar per Turn:❆❆❆
If you plan on skiing at Tukino for more than a couple of days a season, it pays to be a member with annual membership only $70.
Adult day pass: $65 Non-members $30 Members or $40 if you have a RAL season pass
Season Pass: $300 Non member $180 Member
Bottom line: overall stoke factor of 3
A good spot to escape the crowds, a bit of a ‘less-is-more’ situation. Definitely worth a look, and if you do like it, definitely worth becoming a member.