Located on the North Island of New Zealand, Mount Ruapehu is easily accessible by car from both Auckland and Wellington. Most visitors choose to hire a car and drive the 4.5 hours; however, you can catch a domestic flight in Taupo Airport for a shorter 1.5hr ride.
Mt Ruapehu and surround areas such as Ohakune, Taupo and Whakapapa National Park are a great base for thrill seekers and adventure travellers. The region offers adrenaline raising adventures year-round. Summer visitors enjoy hiking, rafting, discovering waterfalls and mountain biking; while winter travellers ski, snowboard and participate in thrilling glacier walks or soak in the nearby hot springs. The area is a hive of natural wonders and there are endless activities to enjoy on and off the slopes.
Due to its mountainous location, off the beaten track location, we recommend clients hire a car, it’s the best way to ensure flexibility and transfers can be limited. Having a car allows visitors to maximise their time and be fluid with plans depending on weather and conditions during their holiday.
Mt Ruapehu is a unique holiday destination, covering such a large area, there are lots of small towns and villages that offer easy access to the surrounding national parks and ski resorts.
Ohakune is the town at the southern gateway to the Tongariro National Park World Heritage Site, this is the closest town to Tūroa at just a short 25-minute drive. Whakapapa Village and National Park Village are both close to Whakapapa ski are, at only a 10 minute and 20-minute drive away respectively.
There is a selection of accommodation available throughout Mt Ruapehu to suit all styles and budgets. From Hotels and Lodges through to Chalets, Chateaux and Resorts, Mt Ruapehu has something for everyone. Like all ski resorts, travelling at the beginning or end of the ski season is the most economical time to visit. The ski season for Whakapapa and Tūroa runs July to October each year. We also always spur clients to book nice and early, especially if travelling over school holidays or other peak travel times such as public holidays.
For more information on Mt Ruapehu accommodation, visit our accommodation page.
Mt Ruapehu is the most well know ski destination in the North Island, encircled by world renowned Tongariro National Park and Whanganui National Park, this region is truly spectacular. The dramatic volcanic peaks lead into a lush rainforest, the landscape is a playground for outdoor lovers. During winter, Mt Ruapehu becomes a haven for skiers and snowboards, with two major ski resorts within driving distance. Tūroa ski field is famous for its long halfpipe-like bowls, New Zealand’s highest chairlift and longest vertical, as well as its wide-open slopes. While neighbouring Whakapapa ski field is New Zealand’s largest skiable area and home to Whakapapa’s Happy Valley, a remarkable learn to ski or board area in its own valley. Combined Tūroa Ski Resort and Whakapapa Ski Resorts make Mt Ruapehu the perfect winter holiday destination for all levels of skier or snowboarder!
For more information on Whakapapa and Tūroa Lift Passes visit our Lift Pass Page.
Things to do in Mt Ruapehu:
There is plenty to keep visitors entertained around Mt Ruapheu, the region is a natural wonderland, with waterfalls, mountain peaks, rivers and lush tropical rainforests. Aside from hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding; visitors can try Tongariro Quads, Hukafalls Jet boating, the Skywalk, explore caves, Golf and Tongariro River Rafting.
Further south in Lake Taupo, visitors love Debretts hot springs, the Taupo Cliffhanger & Taupo Bungy.
Best Après in Mt Ruapehu:
Due to having spread out accommodation, there is not a single hub to head for après-ski like other more centralised snow regions. Each peak has its own hotspots so your best après spot is quite dependant on where you stay, where you ski and your preferred atmosphere!
Tūroa operates some excellent on mountain après options with stunning views of the volcanic surrounds. Try out Mountain Restaurant at 2057m elevation, the views (or the altitude) will take your breath away. There is also a café at the base on the lifts that has a great atmosphere once the lifts stop turning. Check out Altitude 585 in Ohakune, this quaint log-cabin style establishment opens 7 days and has a great selection of wine, beer and cocktails.
Alternatively, if you are staying at the Powderhorn Chateau, the Matterhorn Grill and Bar has a lively atmosphere with a warm European vibe. Whakapapa has bragging rights for the highest café in New Zealand at 2287m above sea level, visit the Knoll Ridge for a staggering view of volcanic peaks and never-ending valleys. Whakapapa does have a slightly more relaxed vibes and the best spot after lifts close is a hotel bar most of the time.
Best Restaurants in Mt Ruapehu:
Food is often a huge part of travelling and when you are on an active holiday like skiing and snowboarding you easily work up an appetite. We want to share (in our team’s opinion) some of the best restaurants in Mt Ruapehu.
Powderhorn Chateau has a selection of dining options, but the Powderkeg Restaurant is dining a favourite. Nicknamed ‘the keg’ there is a warm atmosphere, or maybe that is due to the large fireplace? The menu is made up of hearty pub cuisine using fresh local produce. The iconic Chateau Tongariro Hotel also has an excellent café called Pihanga Café which serves casual, tasty meals, but if you are looking for something a little more memorable to celebrating a special occasion, they also do an excellent High Tea experience at the Chateau.
Another highlight is the Station café and restaurant, this historic building is a converted railway station that serves breakfast and lunch in a café setting, then at night delicious restaurant quality cuisine at a reasonable price.
If you have any recommendations on the best restaurants in Mt Ruapehu or surrounding area, let us know!
Located in between Tongariro National Park and Whanganui National Park on the North Island of New Zealand, is Mount Ruapehu. This stunning alpine region is an incredible base for anyone who loves the outdoors, nature and adventure.
Due to the mountainous surrounding terrain, visitors are recommended to hire a car for the most flexibility. Skiers and snowboarders can check weather, roads and conditions each morning before deciding where they will ski each day. If you don't feel comfortable driving in snowy conditions, there are shuttle services available.
If you want to avoid the crowds during your ski holiday, we recommend using Saturday for off mountain activities, being so close to Wellington and Auckland, city slickers often make weekend trips to the snow and therefore weekends are always much busier on the slopes.