Mt Ruapehu is the skiing/snowboarding hub in the North Island of New Zealand. It is great in the winter but should also not be discounted in the summer. We went for a couple of days. For those unfamiliar to the area, it is an active volcano that throws a tantrum every decade or so.
Where to stay:
The small town of Ohakune is a great base. While it is a very small town, there is lots of accommodation, mostly in the form of backpackers and baches (privately owned holiday accommodation) that you rent through “book a Bach”. Ohakune is closest to the Turoa side of the mountain.
You could also stay around the other side of the mountain in the National Park. There is much less accomodation around this side and the township is limited to the chateau and very little else. National park is on the Whakapapa side of the mountain.
What to do:
Waiuru is not too far from Ohakune and there is an excellent military museum located on the edge of the army base. It is easy to spend a few hours wandering through here. Save it for a wet day – you will probably get one!
Walking – there are nice walking tracks at the base of the mountain which take you though bush and to waterfalls. Up the mountain you can get on a chairlift which will take you up to a cafe. You can enjoy a coffee and something to eat or you can just admire the view. From the cafe there are a number of walking tracks you can take to get some great views. Tracks are signposted. Wear boots!
For a real highlight you can walk the Tongariro Crossing. We didn’t get to do this, this time but it’s on the list!
For burgers and craft beer, try out the new hipster burgeria, the Blind Finch. While not cheap, they have delicious gourmet burgers that are worth a try.
Photo opportunities: The big carrot! Ohakune is famous for it’s delicious carrots. You can take a photo by a giant carrot.
Ohakune town is a sleepy little town in the summer – which is quite nice as in the winter it is a really busy little town, particularly if the mountain is open for skiing and boarding.
Try the summer – you might like it!