Whakapapa is the largest ski area in New Zealand. Located in the slopes of an inactive volcano, Mount Ruapehu; Whakapapa has everything a ski enthusiast needs to be happy. Steep terrain for adrenaline lovers, flat lands for beginners and natural half pipes for snowboarders. And when the snow is gone during summer months, it becomes the perfect place to camp outdoors, breathe fresh air and watch the stars at night. If you think New Zealand is just famous for its dairy products, you should think it again. Today we’ll explain why you should visit Whakapapa on your next winter vacation.
Attractions for skiers in Whakapapa
Currently there are 13 lifts that give you access to 44 different trails, each with a different difficulty level. Thousands of years ago, in the last eruption of Mount Ruapehu, lava rivers flowed across the slopes, forming a smooth surface, ideal for sliding through the snow without problems. Steeper trails are ideal to reach high speeds; reason why Whakapapa has often become the site for international competitions.
After ski season, from June to October, the resort is open for those who love outdoor activities from November to May. Biking, hiking and camping are some of the activities preferred by visitors. Whakapapa is also home to the largest gondola in New Zealand, the Sky Waka. Its 1.8 km route gives you a panoramic view of the beautiful landscapes of the mountain. Many tourists usually bring their binoculars to observe hidden details of flora and fauna.
At the end of the route, at 2020 m above the sea, is located the highest restaurant and café in New Zealand, the Knoll Ridge Chalet, where you can enjoy a delicious hot chocolate and the best food prepared by international chefs.
A tourist attraction for movie lovers
Due to its impressive landscapes, Whakapapa has become the favorite place for many directors to film the most impressive sequences. Several scenes from “The Lord of the Rings” were recorded in the Meads Wall area. Thanks to the movie, thousands of fans of fantasy movies visit Whakapapa every year.
A safe place where children can learn to ski
Many parents don’t take their children to ski because of the risk of accidents. However, Happy Valley at Whakapapa is a risk-free zone where the little ones can take their first lessons without getting hurt. The slope is almost imperceptible, allowing reaching moderate speeds where skiers can learn to maneuver and turn without falling. In addition, professional instructors are always alert to take care of your family.
About a third of all trails in Whakapapa are suitable for beginners, which guarantees that the experience won’t be monotonous to those who are skiing for the first time.
Lodging near Whakapapa
Very close to Whakapapa ski area, you can find several different lodging options. For many, the best place to spend an unforgettable vacation is the Chateau Tongariro Hotel, located in the Tongariro National Park. World class cuisine, excellent cocktails, bar, gym and pool. A five-star European-style hotel with all the amenities a discerning traveler needs. There are also other equally inexpensive options, such as The Park Hotel Ruapehu, Adventure Lodge & Motel, Skotel Alpine Resort and Discovery Lodge National Park. Each with spacious and comfortable rooms, bar and restaurant. Some options include a kitchen, ideal for those who prefer to save money on food.
Some hotels offer guided tours with Whakapapa booking online, suitable for foreign tourists who are visiting New Zealand for the first time. There are also retail stores where you can buy everything from winter clothes to complete ski or snowboarding equipment.