- Tongariro National Park – RuapehuWhakapapa – Ruapehu Right
Life & Style
‘A veritable playground…’
Every season offers something new.
Skiing and boarding on Mt Ruapehu – an active volcano – is a unique experience.
Mt Ruapehu has the award winning Turoa and Whakapapa ski areas on its slopes. Together they make up the largest ski area in New Zealand with 1,800 hectares of groomed snow Turoa and Whakapapa Ski Areas have guided walks and chair lift rides. Enjoy world-class facilities and a huge range of runs (for complete beginners through to advanced skiers) Mt Ruapehu’s ski season is the longest in the country, usually running from mid June to mid October and can sometimes last until late November and December.
The smaller club field of Tukino can also be found on the eastern side of Mt Ruapehu off State Highway 1, a 20 minute drive from Waiouru. This undiscovered gem is accessible only by 4wd vehicle and offers cat skiing and onsite accommodation.
Apart from the opportunity to ski or snowboard on a live volcano, the more adventurous can, with the assistance of an experienced local guide, explore some of the back-country which includes several glaciers. Climbers will relish the challenge of impressive ice and rock faces.
Attractions and Activities
While we are especially known for our snow sports, there are so many things to do here in Ruapehu.
Now home to two national cycle trails, Ruapehu offers a range of mountain biking and cycling trails found in both the Tongariro and Whanganui National Parks.
The Mountains to Sea – Nga Ara Tuhono Cycle Trail is a 3 to 5 day cycle, made of a network of shorter trails, beginning on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu and ending on the shores of the Tasman Sea in the city of Wanganui. Iconic features of this trail include the Hapuwhenua Viaduct, the Bridge to Nowhere, a jetboat pickup on the Whanganui River and historic settlements along the Whanganui River Road. Shorter sections of the trail are easily accessible and can cater for a range of fitness abilities from children to elderly cycling enthusiasts.
The newly constructed Timber Trail is a purpose built two day cycle adventure through the Pureora Forest in northern Ruapehu. Follow well-graded former tramways and logging roads through native New Zealand forest. An estimated 40% of the trail utilizes the Ongarue logging tramway, constructed and operated by sawmilling firm Ellis and Burnand until it ceased being used in 1958. Along with numerous points of interest, visitors will experience magnificent native landscapes and birdlife.
Construction of the trail included the building of a number of suspension bridges and the restoration of one of the greatest engineering feats on an New Zealand tramway – the Ongarue Spiral. The Timber Trail can be completed over a 2 day period or there is a 1 day option available at the halfway point of Piropiro. This is easily accessible by car.
Discover a century old farmhouse, converted into a café and lavender shop, nestled between fields of lavender, raft the churning rapids or join a horse trek through stunning bush. Take a voyage down the mystical Whanganui River with the traditional guardians of the Whanganui River, seeing Maori village sites. As you paddle, members of the Whanganui iwi (tribe) share their customs and stories of traditional life on the river. Cast your fly into a range of local fresh water rivers and catch yourself a fat Rainbow or Brown Trout, or 4WD across beautifully-rugged terrain.
Lord of the Rings fans can visit several of the actual movie sites on a fully guided Lord of the Rings tour. Walk under Mt. Doom, stroll through Orc Country, see Mordor and visit Ithilien Camp with beautiful waterfalls and beech forests. ‘The Hidden Valley’, an iconic scene in the second Hobbit movie, is a short and easy hike from the Ohakune Mountain Road.
You can take a historical train ride, encounter real Kiwi in Ohakune, discover NZ’s military history at Army Museum Waiouru, or spend a day game hunting. Board a plane or heli for flightseeing, revel in the festival atmosphere of our winter mardi gras, visit small heritage museums, soak in the Tokaanu hot pools and much much more…
Shopping and Dining
Ruapehu region has an excellent range of places to shop. You can buy or hire all the gear you need for tramping, camping, skiing, snowboarding or other outdoor activities at local specialist stores. There are also some excellent shops carrying New Zealand made fashion labels, greenstone and bone pendants.
Relax in one of the many cafes, clubs, restaurants and bars. Your choice of what and where to dine is vast -from a first-rate New Zealand beer at a local pub or seductive restaurant cuisine.
Explore on foot
Tongariro National Park has unforgettable, magnificent walks and hikes – including the Tongariro Crossing, taking you over the moonscape craters of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro
The Tongariro Northern Circuit – one of New Zealand’s Great Walks winds its way over Mt Tongariro and around Mt Ngauruhoe taking in the Tongariro Crossing.
For those seeking solitude, magnificent mountain views and a backcountry experience; the Round the Mountain Track is ideal. In the spring, take a guided trek to Ruapehu’s sacred Crater Lake.
Treks of less than one day will take you to Tawhai Falls, Taranaki Falls, Tama Lakes ,Silica Rapids, Waitonga Falls, Mangawhero Falls, Lake Surprise or along the Old Blyth Track.
The stretch of river between Taumarunui and Pipiriki is the only river journey that is part of the New Zealand Great Walks. Known as the Whanganui Journey the full trip takes around five days.
Another popular trek is the Mangapurua Track starting at Whakahoro and crossing the Bridge to Nowhere. From here you can either be picked up by jet boat or you can jump in a canoe or kayak and paddle your way down.
The four day Matemateonga Track uses old Maori and early settler trails.
Culture and Heritage
The stories of the local Maori people (Tangata Whenua) explain the significance of the mountains, native forests and rivers to their people. These stories are as relevant today as they were to their ancestors highlighting the continuing importance placed by Maori people on their spiritual connection with these natural elements.
The Tongariro National Park was gifted to the country by the local Ngati Tuwharetoa people, who recognised that a treasure so precious needed to belong to all New Zealanders.
Learn about the cultural significance of Mt Tongariro and Mt Ruapehu to the tangata whenua. Hear the different tribal stories which tell of their individual associations with these mountains and their related connections to neighbouring mountains, rivers and lakes.
Visitors can also journey down the Whanganui River with members of the Whanganui iwi who have retained a close and deeply spiritual connection with the river. Stopping off at various sites along the river, visitors can hear their stories and enjoy traditional hospitality. The river has a fascinating history of wars, steamboats, water-driven flourmills and abandoned homes and farms.
See the remnants of colonial days – from engineering marvels to still-surviving Victorian buildings, you will discover the life and times of early European settlers and what drew them to this rich area.