Onyx Snowboarding – New Zealand Slackcountry Mini Session At Mt Ruapehu

by chris.hazeldine

A Blog from the other side of the world!

Hey everybody 🙂

So for those who don’t know already, I normally spend my summers down in New Zealand working as an instructor trainer at a place called Mt Ruapehu, and I’m here again this season enjoying what this place has to offer.

Mt Ruapehu (pronounced Ru-ah-peh-hu) is a really individual place, it’s an active volcano that’s isolated from any other mountains, so it stands at 2700m (give or take) in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island. On a clear day you can see the coast stretching from west to south for about 200 miles, so it’s a pretty stunning place to be.

I was lucky enough this year to have a visit from Brad and Tanya, a pair who will be very well known to Onyx regulars as they have come down for the winter season here. They’ve been travelling around a fair bit, and they’re now down in Wanaka, but for a week I had the pleasure of their company up here. As you can see from the video we were able to squeeze in some fun riding around my work, the little video blog we made was filmed in about 2 or 3 hours when I had a morning off! It shows off the ‘West’ side of the ski area that I work at, which has really nice mellow terrain perfect for some cruisy powder riding. We were outside of the ski area boundary to add a little excitement but could still traverse back to the bottom cafe’s and lifts. I guess the best word to sum up that kind of terrain is slackcountry….so backcountry that doesn’t really require much in the way of avalanche safety equipment on safer days and is easily accessible through traversing. There is some fantastic terrain to hike to here, for example hiking up to the summit of the mountain and looking down into the Volcano crater lake (see picture!)


For that kind of stuff, with much steeper pitches to ride down avalanche safety equipment is a must. Fortunately for myself, Brad and Tanya we were able to find some great snow without having to concern ourselves with avalanche risks, as you can see from the video! I just couldn’t resist slashing a bit of snow at Brad after he decided to drop his nose…definitely glad I had the gopro out for that bail.


They definitely came to visit at the right time though, we can get some pretty varied weather here, and because we’re so close to the coast line…we get a lot of moisture in the air as well which can leave some interesting de-icing work to be done on the chair lifts.

Thankfully they were treated to some great sunny days, little wind and fresh snow. The picture above on the other hand, well that was from a couple of days ago and as you can see, much wetter and very windy! Can you guess which direction the wind was coming from?

A good day definitely makes up for it though!


I hope you’re all enjoying your summer, see you soon!

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