FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

rārangi pātai

How do I check if the field is open?

check our Snow Report/Web-cam page.

Our lower mountain more often than not loses snow between falls, as it is low in elevation (1260m), being warmer and less snow cover there, plus we get rain up here!
Please check our Snow Report/Web-cam page for the latest report, and view of current mountain conditions.

It’s open and I want to get to the ski area.........

Great! You'll need your own transport arrangements to get to and from the Plateau Car Park (there is no scheduled public transport to Manganui Ski Area).

Can I hire gear?

Taranaki ski hire

We regret that no ski hire or snowboard hire facilities are available on our ski area. To hire gear you have to get it from New Plymouth or Stratford...

CheapSkates in New Plymouth for Snowboard & Boot hire.

Do you do lessons/packages?

We regret that we do not have any instruction/lessons or combined packages at our ski area.

What is the access road like?

The road from Stratford (Pembroke Road, look for the East Egmont/Plateau sign) heads towards the mountain through farmland to the National Park boundary. From there it is a scenic drive through native forest to the Mountain House Lodge, then a winding 4km through native forest to the car park. The sealed access road is cleared for snow (and gritted for ice if conditions are real treacherous) during the winter (thanks Fulton Hogan/SDC). Occasionally chains or 4WD are required from the Park boundary or the Mountain House. The road conditions generally improve during the day as it gets plenty of sun on a nice day. However this can mean the road (and especially the corners) can get real slick coming down. Take care on the drive home. As for driving in any alpine environment chains should be carried at all times.

Do I really have to walk in?

Unless you’re Tom Cruise. From the car park it is a reasonable uphill scenic walk to the field (20-25min). It feels a long way going up but it is always easier coming down after a good day on the hill. And hey, you’ll get nicely warmed up!
You will need to carry your gear up the steeper first part of the track to the “Flying Fox” goods lift (10-15min from car park). So a backpack to carry essentials is a good idea.

What footwear shall I use?

Good alpine footwear is a must. The track and steps can get icy and/or wet at times, especially the shady field side (north side) of the gorge. Boarders tend to walk up in their snowboard boots. However walking up in ski boots would be a painful experience!
We do our best to maintain the track in a good state for the general public and ski area users alike.

How cold does it get?

The walk in makes you puff a bit, so expect to perspire. A good idea is to start cold as you will warm up once you get going, especially if you are carrying gear. Don’t overdress for the walk up otherwise you could overheat and when you cool down you'll get cold. It can get windy and cold at times. But the public shelter is warm. Plan for changeable conditions similar to Ruapehu. Please dress the kids warmly. No jeans!

What do I do when I get to the Flying Fox?

Put your gear on it that you don’t want to carry. It will get sent over shortly. If it is full wait till an empty carriage returns, then load your gear on. Note that it's operation is subject to wind. If the basket is hanging in the gorge, then the fox is currently not operating.

All that snow in the avalanche path is a great playground...

It can be. Fun as it may be, you are advised to move quickly through the head of the Manganui Gorge. Check the avalanche advisory board, located right of the tunnel entrance. If it says moderate then definately do not play around in this area. If it says high or extreme, then we are closed and the track to the ski area is closed until the advisory drops to considerable (ring the snow phone or check our snow report/webcam page for updates).

I’ve made it to the ski area and my gear is still on the other side...

If you get to the field and your gear is still not sent over, go to the ticket office (within the DoC Public Shelter - the first building on the right as you walk onto the ski area) and while you buy your lift pass ask if they can send your gear over for you.

Where do I stow my gear?

The first building you see on your right is the Public Shelter. Administered by DoC, it is for the daily public to use. You'll find the ticket office/canteen here. Toilets are also at the bottom of the shelter. The SMC Manganui Lodge (the newest looking lodge) is for club members, their guests, and paying guests. You need to be accompanied by a member to go in here (who will need to get you a visitors pass). Ask at the ticket office, they can arrange for a member to take you for a tour inside.

What food can I buy?

We sell hot pies and hot drinks, snack bars, chocolate bars, bottled water, energy drinks and fizzy, crisps, that type of thing.

What is the terrain like?

The Learners Rope Tow is a gentle but challenging slope with a short run and adequate space.

The T-bar is all intermediate level. Nice and rolly and open. Quite small runs but generally uncrowded. Cues aren't usually an issue on this lift, except for weekend crowds at times. A busy day at Manganui is 300-400 skiers, so the word 'crowd' is relative here!
Because of this and the friendly club atmosphere, the T-bar runs rate as some of the best learning grounds in the North Island. Especially if you are a snowboarder learning to ride surface lifts. Ride this t-bar and you can ride any in the country.

There is quite a large difference between the slopes of the T-bar and those accessed by the Top Tow. The Top Tow is a lot steeper (25-30deg average gradient). Imagine the front side of Treble Cone, without the groomed cat track trails. Big open faces, natural ½ pipe valleys, cool terrain and views. It is mostly rated expert, but strong intermediates can ski here with fun and confidence in favorable snow conditions.

If unfamiliar with the terrain, don’t ski over any rise unless you are absolutely sure what is over the other side. If the vis is marginal, ask to ski with a club member, who looks like he knows his way round. If you are new to the lift, let yourself be known to the lift operator./ski patrol. They are more than willing to help you get going on the lift and show you around the ski area or arrange for another too. They can even slow the lift down to make it easier for you to get on until you get more familiar with it.

No ski area in NZ has quite the same type of terrain as found on Manganui’s Top Tow. If you hit it on a good day it will be a truly memorable experience.

And the snow?

We are subject to coastal weather patterns, so snow conditions can change overnight. If the snow is good it pays to get up here and 'get it while it’s on'.

Early season the field loses the sun after 2pm, so the snow can get firmer then (on occasion this can make the snow better).

The Top tow can get icy. Sometimes it can look good from below but is too bulletproof to operate safely. Big shiny patches are a tell tale sign that it is very firm up there. We do not operate in those 'slide for life' alpine conditions.

How about riding the top tow?

Person using ski tow

You can hire top-tow belts for $10 from the ticket office, if the top tow is operational. We require a bond (credit card or similar) that is returned on receipt of the red belt. Tow belts are also for sale, should you wish to purchase one.

Practice makes perfect! If it is your first time, take a seat on the get-on ramp and watch how people get on. Then let it be known to someone that you are new to it, and they can slow the lift for you so you have plenty of time to get on. It is all about sharing the experience on the top tow. We want to see you up there enjoying it too. It is friendly place so others will be more than willing to help you out.

Nutcrackers are fit for purpose ski lifts. They can be tiring, but get you to the top in no time. It is amazing that in the more than 50 years they have been in existence, the technology has changed little. That is how great they are for club fields.

If you can get the hang of these lifts, then club-field skiing becomes a real alternative; the uncrowded friendly atmosphere, and likelihood of epic snow, on great terrain, will grow on you.

For further info on riding a nutcracker rope tow see the Powderhounds website.

Do you do ski weeks like the other club fields?

No we don’t. But you can stay in the SMC Lodge overnight or for consecutive days if you wish. Bookings are essential. See our Accommodation page.

What is the SMC Lodge like?

Modern. Warm. Self Catered (bring all your own food). Nice modern alpine lodge. Bunk style rooms (double beds available). Great atmosphere if you do stay during the season. See our Accommodation Page.

If I stay the night, should I leave my car at the Plateau Car Park?

In a word: No! Break-ins are a problem for cars parked here overnight or late. We suggest you park at the Mountain Lodge further down the road, then arrange a lift to get you back to the Plateau. SMC members are a friendly bunch and if asked will usually offer to help you out.

The Plateau car park is quiet and traffic minimal up the road late at night. It is a road end in a national park, and as such is an obvious target for undesirable activiy. It seems that the youth of Stratford take delight in heading up the road for fun, and are tempted by cars sitting there. Call it a crime of opportunity; but plenty of the public and SMC members have had their cars broken into and trashed over the years.

As at June 2015, SMC is in support of one members' initiative to improve the security at the Plateau Car Park. Watch this space for more soon.

Wow, what a great days skiing. I want to join the club. What do I do next?

Just complete the SMC Application Form as detailed and post with payment to us. We will send you out your membership card. Then you are able access the new SMC Lodge, keep your gear on the hill if you wish, get cheaper lift pass rates…