Great Lake Taupo Skiing & Winter Holiday Activities

Winter in the Great Lake Taupo Region

Whakapapa Ski Area

Mt Ruapehu is a main feature of the Central Plateau region and is situated about 15 kilometres southwest of Great Lake Taupo in the Dual World Heritage listed, Tongariro National Park. The reserve is New Zealand’s oldest national park and was established in 1887 after the chief of the Ngati Tuwharetoa people gave the park’s three peaks: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu to the country in order to preserve the area, which has paramount spiritual significance to the Maori people.

At 2,797 metres, Mt Ruapehu is the North Island’s tallest mountain and this multi-peaked summit presides over other mountains, deserts, lakes, alpine rivers, volcanoes and wilderness. The Maori translation for Ruapehu means ‘pit to explode’, which is apt, as it is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and has experienced an eruption as recently as 2012.

In winter Ruapehu turns into a playground for snow sport enthusiasts, who clamber to the mountain’s two commercial skifields – Whakapapa Ski Area (New Zealand’s largest) and Turoa Ski Area, spouting the highest lift access terrain in New Zealand. These two fields have a combined skiable area of 1,050 hectares making it the largest area dedicated to skiing in New Zealand. Both have an excellent variety of terrain to suit all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Mt Ruapehu's lesser-known gem, the Tukino Ski Field is located on the eastern side of the mountain. Tukino offers the rare combination of adventure minus the crowds.

Turangi is well located to base yourself if you are planning a ski or snowboarding holiday. The variety of après ski and off mountain activities are endless if the weather gods are not playing nicely. Everything you need to have a great day up on the mountain is available in Turangi or Taupo city including ski and snowboard rental and tuning, warm weather gear shops, ski packages, lessons and transport plus a wide range of accommodation options.

For a completely different perspective of the region, take to the sky in a scenic flight or helicopter – it is from this vantage point that you will be able to fully appreciate the magnitude of the resident mountains, waterways, lakes and forests.

To mix this bird’s eye experience with a little adrenalin, try a skydive or bungy jump – Taupo has the world’s largest commercial tandem sky dive drop zone, as well as the country’s highest water-touch bungy drop at 47 metres over the Waikato River.

Relax after a hard day’s adventuring in one of the Central Plateau’s many volcanic thermal spots – a swim at the DeBretts Taupo Hot Springs, Wairakei Terraces or at Tokaanu Hot Thermal Pools will certainly take the edge off the sorest of muscles.


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