In the heart of the North Island, this diverse region is home to two national parks – Tongariro and Whanganui – along with many other amazing natural places. Awe-inspiring outdoor activities, captivating history and unique visitor attractions make it a memorable holiday destination everyone will love.
Ruapehu is easy to reach by road from Auckland and Wellington and everywhere in between. You’ll find it right off State Highway 1 at the southern end of Lake Taupō, and on State Highway 4 via Taumarunui, starting point for the legendary Forgotten World Highway through to Taranaki. It also lies close to airports in Taupō, Whanganui and Palmerston North.
If you love spectacular scenery, unforgettable adventures and a warm welcome, make sure Ruapehu is on your itinerary. Here are a just a few ideas of things to do when you get here.
EXPLORE TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK’S REMARKABLE STRIKING SIGHTS
UNESCO-listed for both its natural and cultural heritage, Tongariro National Park is an otherworldly landscape of towering mountains surrounded by tussock-covered plains. Its striking natural wonders include steaming vents, strange rockforms, waterfalls, lakes and wonderful alpine gardens.
The pinnacle of the national park is Mt Ruapehu, the North Island’s highest mountain.
The Sky Waka gondola will whisk you up to a spectacular 2020 metre high lookout for five thrilling minutes where you can survey the grandeur over coffee or a meal at Knoll Ridge Chalet, New Zealand’s highest dining experience. Fit walkers can venture even further up on the Skyline Ridge hiking track or return to the base area on foot along the Waterfalls Descent trail.
Threaded through the park are a series of hiking and nature trails including the world-famous, one-day Tongariro Alpine Crossing. From Whakapapa Village, wander to Taranaki Falls and the striking Silica Rapids or take a longer hike up to the peculiar Tama Lakes. Walks near Ohakune include the popular Waitonga Falls track, and the more challenging hike to Lake Surprise, one of the national park’s best-kept secrets.
DISCOVER WHANGANUI NATIONAL PARK’S SECRETS
Deep gorges, majestic forest, cascading waterfalls, historic Māori sites and the intriguing Bridge to Nowhere are just some of the remote sights revealed on a trip down New Zealand’s longest navigable river. Explore it on a thrilling jetboat trip from Pipiriki or Taumarunui, or paddle quietly downstream by canoe on the multi-day Whanganui Journey – one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – staying in peaceful riverside campgrounds and lodges.
SEE TOP SIGHTS & SCENERY BY BIKE OR EBIKE
Ruapehu’s two Great Rides and other bike trails are a great way to soak up local stories and scenery. One classic one-day ride is the Ohakune Old Coach Road, a section of the Mountains to Sea/Ngā Ara Tūhono Cycle Trail, which boasts spectacular railway relics and lovely bush. The other must-do is the Timber Trail through stunning Pureora Forest, which can be ridden over two days or in sections. The up-and-coming Marton Sash and Door trail from National Park Village could also be on your list. Handy bike hire and shuttle services make for easy trip logistics.
RIDE THE RAILS THROUGH A FORGOTTEN WORLD
Take a trip back through time on Forgotten World Adventures’ fun rail cart trips following an old railway line. Hop aboard a self-drive rail cart for a peaceful cruise through rural countryside taking in hand-dug tunnels and bridges, the iconic Whangamomona country pub, and lots of local history. Trips range from half-day to multi-day with added adventure activities.
ENJOY EPIC SKIING & SNOWBOARDING ON MIGHTY MT RUAPEHU
Winter snowfall transforms Mt Ruapehu into a skiing and snowboarding playground. New Zealand’s best beginners’ area, longest ski season, snowmaking, unique terrain and incredible views make it a must-visit for snow-lovers of all ages. The fun starts early and easy at the fantastic Happy Valley, then at Whakapapa and Tūroa ski areas – together offering around 1000 ha of varied, scenery-filled terrain with more than 700 metres of vertical descent.
FUN TIMES WITH THE LITTLIES IN YOUR LIFE
Enjoy some family-friendly good times in ‘Our Greater Outdoors’. Head to Whakapapa Visitor Centre to learn how these amazing landscapes were formed, then get up close on easy nature trails. Spin your wheels on Ohakune’s Mangawhero River Trail and Te Pepe Pump Track, then head to the Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park and have some fun in the colourful playground. Other big hits with the kids are Nevalea Alpaca Farm near Taumarunui, the Dinosaur House museum in Raetihi, leisurely rafting trips, horse riding, minigolf, and indoor rock climbing.
TAKE HIGH TEA AT THE GRAND CHATEAU
Step back in time with High Tea at the Chateau Tongariro Hotel, the grand icon of Tongariro National Park built in 1929. Pull up a comfortable chair in the sumptuous Ruapehu Lounge in front of the fire or by the Ngāuruhoe window, and enjoy a fine repast of traditional scones, delicate finger sandwiches, sweet treats and freshly brewed gourmet tea or coffee.
SOAK UP THE SIGHTS & SMELLS OF FOUR GLORIOUS GARDENS
Dotted along a 12-kilometre stretch of the Forgotten World Highway are four private gardens open to view. Between them they offer acres of botanical wonders of every style and hue – olive groves, picturesque ponds, lavish lawns, mini-golf, and a beloved lavender farm and cafe on the banks of the Whanganui River. Known as the Forgotten World Gardens, this spectacular quartet will give you a day out you won’t forget!
VISIT NEW ZEALAND’S AWESOME ARMY MUSEUM
In Waiouru, the southern gateway to Ruapehu, the National Army Museum recollects the nation’s fascinating military history through varied exhibits featuring uniforms, weaponry, photographs, artwork and other memorabilia. KidzHQ offers entertainment and education for the younger visitors. Lest we forget.
KICK BACK & RELAX IN SMALL, FRIENDLY TOWNS
Ohakune, Whakapapa Village, National Park Village, Raetihi and Taumarunui offer everything you need for a satisfying holiday. Full of local character, they offer atmospheric accommodation, friendly shops, plenty of dining options and many other essential services.
PLAN YOUR TRIP at www.visitruapehu.com or visit the i-SITE Visitor Information Centres in Ohakune, Taumarunui and Whakapapa.