Ruapehu Region activities go way beyond New Zealand’s biggest and best value major ski areas, Tūroa and Whakapapa. Jointly these form Mt Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, with passes interchangeable between them – and only $NZD 74 daily midweeks all season.
Which is a great incentive to go ski or board there in itself. But mighty Mt Ruapehu’s snow fields are just the start of what’s on offer in this historic natural paradise. There are plenty of active, and not so active, activities which include many family friendly ones. Here arre some highlights, which all operate through winter.
Since the area offers the most reliable late season snow in either Australia or New Zealand – the season goes almost to the end of October – there is even more choice in spring, which is a great time to visit. Families locked into October school holidays will really notice the difference – ski till you’ve had enough then go off and do something else..
For starters, how about the spectacular crater lake on Ruapehu itself? Experienced back country skiers and boarders it’s a great trip with skins or a split board, but any normally fit people without the skills for that can enjoy a guided hike up to it with local outdoors experts Adrift Tongariro.
They also offer what’s billed as NZ’s New Zealand’s best day one-day walk, the 19km Tongariro Crossing. In winter this offers the opportunity to walk through the magnificent snow-covered landscape without the summer crowds.
No outdoor experience is necessary, all training and tuition is given on the day. Crampons and ice-axes are supplied by Adrift Tongariro for a fantastic alpine experience. The track leads up to the saddle between Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Tongariro. The landscape on Tongariro is peppered with different coloured and shaped craters that have been active at different periods, scoured volcanic rocks, mountain springs and brightly coloured emerald lakes.
If you’re not up for either of these, the 2 hour Sunset Guided Walk is an easier option to capture the magnificent scenery and enjoy some NZ sparkling wine to celebrate your efforts and can be done after your ski time.
Prefer mechanised adventures? Ruapehu Adventure Rides is year-round, spectacular off-road fun for everyone in the family with Tongariro National Park as your backdrop. From guided buggy rides to self-drive quad adventures, this is an awesome way to explore native bush and farmland. Trips start from 1 hour,
Just 2 km out of National Park Village (at Mountain Heights Lodge), the main base for the Whakapapa side of Ruapehu, it’s very accessible. Guides will take you over farmland, through native bush, and natural stream crossings, surrounded by the world famous Tongariro National Park. They offer guided quad bike and buggy rides. Trained staff provide all the gear you need, choose from 1 hour, 1 1/2 hour, 2 hour, or 1/2 day tours. They cater the ride for your ability. Quad bike riders must be 16+, kids can ride the buggys which take up to 3 passengers.
Jetboating is a Kiwi invention and the Shotover Jet in Queenstown is so famous a lot of people might think that’s the only place you can do it.
But not so! A ride with Whanganui River Adventures is a chance to be immersed in their local indigenous Māori & Pre-European culture by local river people – tangata whenua o te awa – for a truly unique experience and memory. The hot chocolate and biscuits will go down a treat with little kids and big kids alike. In winter their jet boat tours operate for a minimum of 2 adults (Tue/Thurs/Sat/Sun) or 4 adults (Mon/Wed/Fri).
Something cute and cuddly? Ruapehu is home to NZ’s largest alpaca farm, with more than 1,000 alpacas nestled amongst the rolling foothills of Taumarunui. Open year-round, there are family passes available for a range of alpaca fun including a picnic with alpacas, cuddles with a cria (baby alpaca), hand-feeding time and alpaca treks at the award-winning Nevalea Alpacas. They have baby alpacas all year round. Mums and dads can steal a surreptitious cuddle too, we know you want to!
Slow it down at Bradley’s Garden, which takes mini-golf to new heights with a mischievous and spectacular 9-hole course with the most stunning views. Top of the day with a wander through the glorious, themed gardens, and enjoy a delicious high tea at the gazebo.
Another classic high tea option is the iconic Chateau Tongariro at the base of the access road to Whakapapa. Enjoy a decadent High Tea or some delicious dining from a fine selection of cafes, restaurants, and bars. There’s also plenty of other entertainment at Chateau Tongariro including an in-house cinema, arcade games, indoor heated plunge pool, fitness room and sauna.
More Info on the Ruapehu Region
Check the great Visit Ruapehu site for the full array of options
For our feature on that and the great value you get see below; for bookings and all the latest info check the Ruapehu Alpine Lifts site here.
Access To Mt Ruapehu
Fly into Auckland or Wellington (or into one out of the other).
Wellington Airport is slightly closer – 295km to Ohakune, around 4 hours, vs 347km from Auckland Airport to Ohakune via the most direct route, around 4:15 hours. The more scenic route past Lake Taupo is a beautiful trip and only 30 minutes or so drive time further.
Ruapehu gets busier on weekends with city visitors, but there is plenty to see and do in the region instead. Plan a trip to include Rotorua, Taupo, Waitomo Caves, Hawkes Bay wineries etc.
Accommodation Options for Mt Ruapehu
Ohakune/Ohakune Junction is by far the liveliest option, this is one of NZ’s best ski towns.
Otherwise National Park Village is close to Whakapapa with several super budget options, or the Grand Chateau there for old school style, great for couples. Check deals for your preferred dates here for the whole area: