Whakapapa Ski Resort
New Zealand’s largest resort of Whakapapa is a bucket-list destination – and not just because you’re skiing on an active volcano.
Located on the north flank of the mighty Mt Ruapehu, Whakapapa is home to over 550 hectares of terrain, served by an impressive fleet of lifts – which now includes a recently built high-speed quad and the country’s biggest gondola. The base of the mountain is excellent for beginners, with gentle greens winding through the dramatic volcanic landscape, before the runs get steeper further up the side of the peak. There are some excellent long blues towards the Far West T-bar and a number of short, steep blacks in the middle of the mountain – which are the place to go after fresh snowfall. Just watch out for the slightly fickle North Island weather, which can bring lots of cloud to the resort.
On the mountain, the restaurant at the summit of the Sky Waka Gondola is the highest in the country, but aside from this there is little else away from the main base lodge. In terms of accommodation, if you can, join one of the many ski clubs that have huts on the mountain itself, giving you a ski-in-ski-out place to stay and a friendly atmosphere. If you’re just here for a short visit, then Turangi is a good option, but perhaps the best bet is Ohakune for its relaxed ski town vibe and great access to the other resorts of Turoa and Tukino. Make sure you visit the region’s hot springs and explore the centre of North Island further by visiting the likes of Rotorua and Lake Taupo. Both Wellington and Auckland are around 4-5 hours away by road.
Resort website: www.mtruapehu.com/whakapapa