Our guide on things to do in Ohakune
Ohakune provides the perfect base for some seriously awesome adventures. You’ll find this lively yet chilled out town on the southern foothills of Mt Ruapehu. The area absolutely hums come Winter, whether you’re wanting to play in the snow, cosy up with a coffee at NZ’s highest cafe (trust us the views are breath-taking!), enjoy a couple of mulled wines fireside or soak weary muscles at the geothermal springs – Ohakune has it all. During summer its a hive of activity for keen hikers, canoeists, thrill seekers and mountain bikers! This picturesque ‘carrot capital’ has something for everyone – families, snow-shredders, nature enthusiasts and romantics. We’ve rounded up 10 of the must do’s in Ohakune! For where to stay in Ohakune, take a look here.
See 10 of our favourite things to do in Ohakune…
1. Gateway to The Tongariro Crossing
World-renowned and often described as one of New Zealand’s best one-day hikes, the Tongariro Crossing is a bucket list item! You’ll traverse 19.4km of spectacular volcanic alpine terrain, complete with craters, scoria, lava flows, mountain springs and of course the breath-taking emerald lakes which contrast splendidly with the fiery red crater. The crossing has had it’s moments of fame, including Mt Ngauruhoe aka Mt Doom of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings. For the low down on how to prepare, what to bring and shuttle services check out this guide.
2. Ski, snowboard or sled
Ohakune really comes into its own during the winter months. Thanks to Turoa Ski Field located just 25 minutes drive away and Whakapapa reachable within an hours drive from the town centre, the town is well known as being a humming ski destination. Turoa ski field is located on the south-western slopes of Mt Ruapehu and has the longest vertical run in New Zealand – a magnificent 722m of vertical descent! With runs suitable for beginners, intermediate as well as black and black diamond runs – everyone can get amongst the mountain fun! You’ll also find the Alpine Café and Bar ideal for a hot cup of coffee or a cold beer.
Happy Valley is located on the Whakapapa ski field and provides a brilliant playground for families who are seeking their first snow experience, or are eager to practice. Featuring a dedicated area well away from the main action, the little ones are safe to toboggan and play in the snow to their heart’s content. Find out all you need to know about the slopes, passes and rentals here!
3. Tokaanu Thermal Pools
After traversing the crossing or hitting the slopes what could be better than soaking weary muscles in the mineral waters of Tokaanu Thermal Pools! Located in the tiny township of Tokaanu, just a few kilometres from Turangi is where you’ll find this natural thermal wonder. Splash about in the public pool with the kids, or opt for a private pool at night – gazing up to a canvas of stars above you and even a flutter of snow if you’re lucky! While you’re there be sure to explore the rest of the grounds, by embarking on a short walk to see bubbling mud pots and steaming mineral pools set amongst native bush. For prices and opening hours check out their website here.
1. Favourite family activities in Ruapehu?
The climbing wall, river walk, old coach road bike and walking track and skiing of course!
2. Best park or beach?
Carrot park is the best.
3. What to do if it’s raining as a family?
The climbing wall, National Army Museum in Waiouru and walking around the shops.
4. Best family friendly cafe or restaurant?
The best family friendly restaurant is Cyprus Tree in Ohakune and
Osteria is a delicious Italian restaurant.
5. Any other advice for families planning a trip?
Come prepared for all weather! There’s so many wonderful walks and biking tracks so be sure to explore. A visit to Whakapapa and a ride on the new gondola is also a must.
4. Walk or cycle the Old Coach Road
Set out on an adventure by foot or on a bike to experience a dose of New Zealand’s rail heritage via an old coach road. The road was originally used by horse-drawn carriage to transport passengers and goods. Nowadays, you can enjoy a spectacularly scenic journey through native forest with beautiful vantage point views of the district that will have you discovering tunnels, railway relics and viaducts along the way. Allow around 5 hours for the walk to include a laid back lunch, or about 2-3 hours by bike. A good way to plan the trip is to take a shuttle from Ohakune to Horopito (just a short 10 minute drive away) and then walk or cycle back into the town. To organise a shuttle check out TCB bike shop.
5. Whanganui River Adventures
The Whanganui National Park is home to New Zealand’s longest navigable waterway rich in Maori and European history – the mystical Whanganui River. Reached from Ohakune thanks to the canoe hire operators and shuttle services in town, one can make like the explorers did and experience undisturbed native wilderness – making you feel as if you have stepped back in time. Gliding downstream, you’ll paddle past waterfalls, steep-sided canyons, a few rapids, farmland and thick native forest – taking you far beyond the clutches of the modern civilisation we’re accustomed to. Enjoy the eery stillness of your surrounds and the sounds of the abundant birdlife. There are numerous tour durations to choose from when planning your adventure.
6. Kakahi Glowworms
Ever seen New Zealand’s strange little creatures that light up caves, tunnels and rain forests after dark? They’re definitely worth checking out! One of the more unique insects found in New Zealand’s fauna, they occur throughout the country and literally ‘glow’ after dark, creating a beautiful spectacle. Take a visit to the Kakahi glowworms for an utterly unique (and free!) attraction. The glow worms are located approximately a 20-minute drive from Taumarunui Holiday Park.
7. Forgotten World Adventures
Fancy learning and sharing in the stories and unique history of New Zealand’s past… whilst whizzing down the Whanganui River on a jet boat or via a rail cart? Forgotten World Adventure’s is just the ticket! Sit back in a motorised rail cart and travel in comfort along a decommissioned railway line over bridges and rivers, into townships that time forgot and through tunnels. If you’re more of a thrill seeker, jump aboard the jet boat and fly along the upper reaches of the spectacular Whanganui River. There are numerous tours available to choose from depending on the time you have available.
8. National Army Museum
Be inspired by the stories of loyalty, courage and comradeship, honour the sacrifices and learn of the campaigns at New Zealand’s most comprehensive Army Museum. Immerse yourself in the collection of military memorabilia, exhibits and public research material.
9. Explore via Horse Trek
If you love animals and the great outdoors, embarking on a horse trek into the stunning scenery of Ruapehu will be a memorable experience for years to come. Whatever your experience, there is a ride to fit everyone’s needs!
10. Trout fishing
Ruapehu and the surrounding area boast world-class wilderness fishing. The crystal clear waters flowing through remote native bush have anglers returning year after year, allowing one to really escape from it all. The area offers angling of all types, from trophy lake fishing in Lake Otamangakau to sight fishing for large trout in smaller streams and rivers. The fly-fishing season runs from 1st October through to May, though selected public areas such as the Ruatiti Domain (Manganui-o-teao river) and parts of the Mangawhero River are open year round. Most spawning rivers are closed between fly-fishing seasons.
Expect to find Brown and Rainbow Trout, which are abundant in the Ruapehu region – the average size starting from 1.5 to 2.5kgs. With secluded locations and trophy potential, Ohakune and its surrounds lure in even the most seasoned fishermen! For more information including access, season and licence requirements, check out this guide.
On a final note…
You simply cannot go to Ohakune without visiting the infamous carrot statue! Be sure to stop by and get a photo. Ohakune’s apres ski scene is also excellent. Head to The Junction to experience clubs and bars that come alive during the winter months and sample some of the delicious cuisines on offer!
Looking for more inspiration? View our range of Ohakune accommodation to set you up perfectly to explore this exciting area.