Ski Mount Ruapehu - Getting to Whakapapa

Smack bang in the middle of the North Island. Getting to Whakapapa Ski Area is an easy commute from the major cities and centers.

Getting to Whakapapa Ski Area by air

From Auckland or Wellington: Direct flights are available from Auckland to Taupo Airport with Air New Zealand. From Wellington you can fly direct to Taupo with Sounds Air. From Taupo town centre it’s about a one hour and 15 minute drive (see directions below) to reach Whakapapa Ski Area. Rental cars are available at Taupo Airport with a number of different rental agencies.

Getting to Whakapapa Ski Area by road

From Taupo & Turangi to Whakapapa Ski Area: Whakapapa Ski Area is about a one hour and 15 minute drive from Taupo. This route is a stunning drive through the landscape of Tongariro National Park, passing through native forest, tussock lands and the three volcanoes of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. It’s well worth the trip, even if you’re not planning on going skiing or snowboarding!

To get to Whakapapa Village from Taupo, head south on State Highway 1 to Turangi. Just south of Turangi township turn right onto the signposted route to National Park, then left onto State Highway 47, which passes over the Te Ponanga Saddle. After approximately 30 minutes turn left onto State Highway 48 towards Whakapapa Village, then continue up the Bruce Road to Whakapapa Ski Area.

Google Maps – Driving directions from Taupo to Whakapapa Ski Area

Bruce Road: The 6km Bruce Road, which accesses Whakapapa Ski Area, is a two-lane sealed highway and is suitable for all 2WD vehicles including campervans and buses. There is plenty of parking at the Top of the Bruce.

Winter road conditions: There may be times when snow chains and/or 4WD are required on the Bruce Road due to winter snowfall and/or icy conditions.

Chains are available for hire at some rental outlets throughout the region, but not in Whakapapa Village. It pays to check the road conditions on the Whakapapa Snow Report and hire chains, if needed, before you start your drive.

If you don’t want to drive your own vehicle up the mountain in conditions that require chains, mountain transport/shuttle buses are available from Taupo, Turangi or Whakapapa Village. 

Rental cars

If you want to hire a car for your trip to the mountain, check this list of rental companies.

Getting to Whakapapa Ski Area by bus

There are a number of bus companies providing transport from Taupo and Turangi to Whakapapa Ski Area. Here are some of them:

Naked Bus – daily service between Taupo and Whakapapa Village. Visit their website for timetables and bookings.

Tongariro Expeditions – bus service to Whakapapa ski field, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Tongariro National Park on demand. Freephone 0800 828 763.

Backyard Tours offers shuttles and tours to anywhere within the Great Lake Taupo region, including the Mt Ruapehu Whakapapa, Turoa and Tukino ski fields. Call 07 386 5322 for enquiries.   

Turangi Alpine Shuttles runs a winter skiers programme leaving Turangi every day at 8.00am & 10.00am, returning from Whakapapa at 1.30pm & 3.30pm. They will drop you at the "Top of the Bruce" 100 metres from the charlifts and Happy Valley Snow Park, and pick you up from the same place. Email or call 0508 427 677.

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