Join the rest of the snow bunnies and head to Mount Ruapehu. Located in the Central North Island, Mount Ruapehu is New Zealand’s largest skiing area. With the drive taking just over four hours from both Auckland and Wellington, Mount Ruapehu is the coolest place to be this winter.
Situated in Tongariro National Park, Mount Ruapehu is surrounded with many small towns such as Turangi and Ohakune, as well as two fantastic ski fields – Whakapapa Ski Area and Turoa Ski Area.
The north-western slope of Mount Ruapehu is where you’ll find Whakapapa Ski Area, 6km above Whakapapa Village. With 550 hectares of developed area, Whakapapa takes the title for New Zealand’s largest ski area. This means generous terrains for all beginner, intermediate and advance skiers and boarders.
Happy Valley is home to beginners, as it offers a safe environment away from faster skiers and boarders. The slopes are long but gentle, allowing you to practice until perfect. The intermediate terrain has more than 30 groomed trails, while there are 24 runs for advanced skiers and boarders. With some special features like the Moro Halfpipe and the intermediate to advance Terrain Park, Whakapapa Ski Area is guaranteed to suit every one of all ages.
Directions to Whakapapa: Turn off from Highway 47 to Bruce Road. Catch the shuttle or drive 6km up Bruce Road where you can park in one of the 2000 car parks available.
Dates and Times: Winter 2010 opens 26 June, Mon-Sun 9am-4pm.
Just a 45-minute drive from Whakapapa, Turoa Ski Area is located on the south-western side of Mount Ruapehu. Turoa also has ski areas to suit all levels; however, the beginners’ area isn’t as vast as Happy Valley. Chutes and bowls add variety to intermediate slopes, making it a nice change when moving up from the beginner levels. If off-piste areas are your cup of tea, Turoa has two lift accessed areas for those seeking adrenalin pumping action. You can find New Zealand’s highest lift at Turoa as well as Australasia’s longest vertical run at 722m.
Directions to Turoa: Turn off from Highway 49 to the 17km long access road starting at Ohakune Junction. Shuttles are also available from Ohakune.
Dates and Times: Winter 2010 opens 19 June, Mon-Sun 9am-4pm.
Handy Tip: Be on the safe side and bring tyre chains for the drive. Otherwise you could hire some from your car rental company or ski field operators for around $25 per day in Whakapapa, and $30 per day in Turoa.
This is a guest post. Image by @Heaven’s Gate (John)