30 August 2021 | Written by Bachcare Holiday Homes

The Complete Guide to Mount Ruapehu

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Everything you need to know about Mount Ruapehu

complete guide to mount ruapehu
Credit: Flickr

Mount Ruapehu is located in Tongariro National Park and is New Zealand’s largest volcano. It’s a wonderful attraction whether you are looking to ski for the first time or if you’re ready to buy a season pass and take on the advanced runs.


The History of Mount Ruapehu

mount ruapehu in the sunlight
Credit: Flickr

Mount Ruapehu has three major peaks. Ruapehu began forming from layers of lava and volcanic material 250,000 years ago. The volcano’s last major eruption was in 1995, and a smaller eruption happened in March 2007. A sophisticated early warning system is in place to ensure safety.

Tahurangi is the tallest peak at 2,797 meters (9,176 feet). J. Park, W.H. Dunnage, and C. Dalin were the first recorded people to climb the highest peak in 1886.


Ski Fields at Mount Ruapehu

The Mount Ruapehu Chateau
The Chateau. Credit: Flickr

In 1913, William Perret Mead and Bernard Drake started skiing on Mount Ruapehu. By 1920, avid skiers were constructing huts on the mountain. In 1929, Rudolph Wrigley built the Chateau.

By 1949, there were thousands of skiers enrolled in skiing clubs and enjoying the mountain. The first Whakapapa chairlift was built in 1959. The Turoa ski field was developed in 1978.

The Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields are New Zealand’s largest. Whakapapa is on the northern side of the volcano, and Turoa is on the southern side. There’s also a club field, Tukino, on the east of the mountain.


Parking and Shuttle

Visitors can either drive all the way to the ski field and park there or take a shuttle from their accommodation or the National Park Village. Parking your own car can seem convenient; however, make sure you check the weather forecast. Your vehicle might need to be equipped with chains or four-wheel drive, depending on the conditions.

Taking a shuttle alleviates the need to have ice capabilities on your vehicle. Many shuttles depart from the National Village or can pick you up at your accommodation.

Shuttles do fill up, so make arrangements in advance whether you are planning on parking or taking a shuttle.

A new parking system allows visitors to book Mount Ruapehu parking online in order to alleviate congestion during peak times on weekends. Visitors should check the ski field’s website for updates and weather conditions before arriving. If you aren’t arriving during a peak weekend, you should be fine to drive up without any drama.

Visitors can catch the Mt Ruapehu Shuttle to get to the ski areas. This is a preferred option when roads are icy. Visitors can catch a shuttle from specified pick-up points or the park and ride in National Park Village. Shuttles often leave hourly between 6 am and 10 am and return between 1:30 pm and 5:30 pm.


Mt Ruapehu Ski Pass

Mount Ruapehu skiing
Credit: Flickr

There are several options for getting tickets to ski on Mount Ruapehu.

One of the most economical and crowd-free ways to enjoy the mountain is an unlimited weekday pass. This pass can be used at Whakapapa or Turoa Monday through Friday.

Visitors can get a Multi-Day Ski Pass for up to three days and ski at either Whakapapa or Turoa.

A weekend family day pass is the perfect way to get ski tickets for the whole family to have access to all ski & ride facilities on both sides of the mountain.


Mt Ruapehu Season Pass

If you want to access Mount Ruapehu ski fields for more than just a day or a weekend, check out a season pass. You can purchase a weekday season pass or an anytime season pass. When an adult buys a season pass, they get a free youth season pass. In addition, season pass holders get priority booking for parking spaces. Season pass holders also get four anytime buddy passes that give their friends 50% off a day pass.


Mt Ruapehu Ski Packages

If you need lessons, lift passes, and equipment, check out a ski package. You can get a full-day group lesson package for your kids, or adults can buy an All Mountain Lift Pass and receive group lessons, equipment, and lift passes. You can also buy private and group lessons separately.


Ski Runs at Mount Ruapehu


Ski Runs at Whakapapa

Whakapapa Chair Lift
Whakapapa Chair Life. Credit: Flickr

Whakapapa has over 550 hectares of terrain–30% of the trails are beginner, 45% are intermediate, and 25% are advanced.

The east side has stunning views and diverse terrain. The west side is fairly open and provides access to the Black Magic area.

Beginner runs are at the base of the mountain. Intermediate runs are on the upper mountain and require good weather. Advanced runs are mid-mountain.

Happy Valley Mt Ruapehu

Happy Valley - Mount Ruapehu
Happy Valley in the background of the cafe. Credit: Wikicommons

Happy Valley is known as New Zealand’s best beginner’s facility. It’s the perfect spot for kids or adults learning to ski. Happy Valley has equipment rentals, a ski school and is focused on learner’s needs. Happy Valley also has its own cafe. This beginner’s area has an easy-to-use carpeted lift, and the chairlift is slow-moving. The slope has a gentle gradient and is nice and long.

Ski Runs at TÅ«roa

Turoa, Mt Ruapehu
Credit: Wikicommons

Turoa has NZ’s highest chairlift and its longest vertical run. 20% of Turoa’s trails are beginner, 55% are intermediate, and 25% are advanced.

Turoa’s Alpine Meadow is perfect for beginners. Intermediate skiers can enjoy NZ’s longest vertical, and advanced skiers can access backcountry terrain. Hamilton’s Face draws expert skiers with its changing terrain and steepness.


Ride The Sky Waka

Sky Waka
The Sky Waka. Credit: Pixabay

The Sky Waka is one of New Zealand’s most stunning gondola rides. This gondola travels over 1.8 kilometers over Mt Ruapehu’s most enchanting landscape. Riders can admire waterfalls and snow-capped peaks on this modern gondola ride.


Ruapehu Weather Forecast

Ruapehu in the summer
Credit: Wikicommons

During the winter, conditions on the mountain can be variable. Skiiers love the days when the weather is crisp and clear. The mountain enjoys heavy snowfall in the winter and the season usually runs from June through October or early November. Mid-October is often a great time to visit as the snow is still good, but the crowds have thinned out.

Before arriving for your ski day, you should check the mountain’s weather by looking at current conditions and the mountain forecast, and then check the ski lift operation schedule.


Enjoy Exploring Ruapehu

If you want the thrill of skiing a stunning active volcano, you won’t want to miss a ski holiday at Mt. Ruapehu. From beginner packages to expert runs, there’s excitement and fun for the whole family.

Book your holiday with Bachcare and enjoy a cosy bach while you enjoying skiing this magnificent mountain.

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