The broad white flanks of Mt
Ruapehu, New Zealands largest active volcano, are an
irresistible attraction for thousands of snow sport enthusiasts
Whakapapa is the North Islands premier ski field and lies
within the magnificent Tongariro National Park, a World Heritage
Area, just four hours drive from Wellington or Auckland.
This magic mountain is high, wide and handsome, with 550 hectares
of patrolled terrain and picture postcard views of the
neighbouring volcanoes. Lift access extends to 2,300 metres and
the vertical drop is 675 metres. There is serious space and
freedom of movement here over wide open terrain. Adventurous
skiers and snowboarders will find a fascinating variety of narrow
chutes, couloirs and deep gullies in the shape of natural
Whakapapa has joined with nearby Turoa ski field to become one
commercial entity known as Mt Ruapehu - the largest snow sports
area in the Southern Hemisphere. Shuttle buses run between the
fields and you can enjoy the two resorts on the one daily/season
pass. A guided 30 minute traverse provides a direct link between
the fields on days when snow and weather conditions permit.
The Whakapapa season usually runs from July to November and the
snow ratings are 30% beginner, 45% intermediate and 25% advanced.
There are 23 lifts - 2 quad and 4 double, 4 T-Bars, as well as
platters and learners lifts. The field has 30 groomed
trails, ample off-piste terrain as well as tobogganing and tubing
areas. Also a terrain park, skier/boarder cross course and ski
school, plus an outstanding beginners area in Happy Valley.
Six cafés and two bars provide snacks and meals. Knoll Ridge
Chalet is the most elevated licensed restaurant in New Zealand.
Accommodation is available at Whakapapa Village 6 km down the
mountain, and at National Park, Turangi, Oakune and Taupo
townships. Après ski activities are well catered for and local
nightspots pump out entertainment and refreshment well into the
wee small hours.