Skiing in the Central North Island

The Central North Island is home to New Zealand's only skiable volcano, Mt Ruapehu.

With wide open plains, rivers and awe-inspiring mountains, Mt Ruapehu is a unique alpine destination situated within a World Heritage National Park. The volcanic terrain means huge variety between trails, with more than 1050 hectares of skiable terrain across two ski areas.

The lakeside tourist town of Taupo lies just one hour 15 minutes from Whakapapa Ski Area and is a great base for all kinds of winter activities. Geothermal hot pools are a highlight of staying in this region. Other towns close to the ski areas include Turangi, National Park and Ohakune.

Whakapapa's old lava flows make great natural half-pipes and challenging terrain for intermediates and experts, while the dedicated beginners area, Happy Valley, is great for learning and for kids. A freestyle terrain park completes the line up, and you can watch all the action from New Zealand’s highest café at Knoll Ridge.

Turoa, on the south-western side of Mt Ruapehu, caters for beginners to advanced, and is known for its wide open bowls and chutes. Snowboarders will love the dedicated terrain park, and you’ll find long linked runs from the top of Australasia’s highest chairlift all the way to the bottom of the ski area.

Mt Ruapehu lift passes give you access to both areas.

Tukino Ski Field, on the eastern side of Mt Ruapehu, is a club-operated field that will appeal to those wanting a day in the backcountry. There are 3 lifts servicing the ski field and cat skiing for those who want a bigger adventure. The lakeside tourist town of Taupo lies just one hour 15 minutes from Whakapapa Ski Area and is a great base for all kinds of winter activities. Geothermal hot pools are a highlight of staying in this region. Other towns close to the ski areas include Turangi, National Park and Ohakune.

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Recommended trip

Discover other North Island winter experiences on this itinerary that takes you from stunning underground cave formations to beautiful lakes, geothermal attractions and snowy peaks.

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Where to next?

What you need to know about skiing in the North Island →

Hot pools & health spas →

Lake Taupo →