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11 things we bet you didn't know about skiing in the North Island of New Zealand

Skiing the North Island has primarily been under wraps for many years, but we've revealed 11 reasons why you should consider a ski holiday in Taupō, New Zealand.

1. Two of NZ’s largest ski areas

Whakapapa Ski Area and Turoa are the two of the largest commercial ski areas in New Zealand – yep there’s more skiable terrain on these two ski areas than the South Island’s Cardrona, The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt all put together!

2. Geothermal wonders, hot pools and bubbling mud

Who doesn’t love to soak away the aches and pains of a day spent on the snow, or just relax and unwind? Taupō is a volcanic, geothermal wonderland with natural thermal hot pools perfect for a soak at the end of a long day. 

Check out our full guide to the hot pools here

3. New Zealand’s largest beginner ski area

Whakapapa Ski Area is home to Happy Valley, New Zealand's largest beginner ski and snow play area. Here you can spend the day experiencing the best that a family winter holiday offers with ski and snowboard lessons, sledding, snowball fights and building snowmen.

4. Family-friendly après-ski

A whole lot is going on in Taupō after a day on the slopes! Come and see the town come to life with fairy-light-lined streets and cosy bars and restaurants with hearty winter food menus, mulled wine and crackling fires to sit beside.

There’s everything from craft beer and wood-fired pizza in lakefront pubs to gourmet cuisine in top restaurants and family-friendly dining throughout the town. Many of these establishments offer spectacular sunset views and a vista of the massive Lake Taupō with the mountains of Tongariro National Park beyond.

5. Discover an ancient and spiritual landscape

The ski areas of Whakapapa and Turoa are located within the Tongariro National Park.

In 1990, it was declared a World Heritage site in recognition of its outstanding natural characteristics. But it wasn’t just recognised once, the Park was then granted Cultural World Heritage status in 1993 in recognition of its cultural significance and history. The park is one of only 29 sites worldwide with Dual World Heritage status.

6. You are skiing an active volcano!

Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas sit proudly on Mt Ruapehu, the largest of the three volcanoes located within the renowned Tongariro National Park. The volcanic landscape lends itself to brilliant terrain features for skiers and snowboarders – think natural halfpipes, chutes and wide-open bowls that stem from centuries-old lava flows.

7. Discover Middle Earth

Some scenes of the fictional Mordor and Mount Doom in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy were filmed on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu. Discover this filming location and impressive views towards Mt Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom), located just a short 15-30-minute walk from the base area of Whakapapa.

8. Perfect terrain for all levels

Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas are a wonderland for skiers, snowboarders and anyone just wanting to play in the snow or go for a toboggan ride. More advanced skiers will love the long, continuous runs full of natural terrain features that stem from the mountain’s volcanic nature, and the big open bowls of the backcountry ski areas. Beginner and intermediate skiers will feel at home on the lower slopes and in the dedicated beginner areas.

9. Pumice is the new gold

It’s not only the ski areas that benefit from brilliant terrain as a result of volcanic activity. Derived from one of the greatest volcanic eruptions ever known, the region’s free-draining pumice soil means excellent cycling and mountain biking conditions year-round – even in the middle of winter.

And if it’s golfing and hiking you’re into, you can thank that super volcano for great conditions also. No muddy puddles!

10. Off mountain activities on tap

Taupō has a huge compliment of off-mountain activities that are different from any other resort town in New Zealand. Discover adrenaline sports like jet boating, white water rafting, bungy jumping and sky diving, as well as scenic lake and sunset cruises, sailing trips and kayaking adventures on Lake Taupō.

You’ll find multiple geothermal hot pools throughout the region, and mountain biking and golf are popular winter activities. The many walking tracks in the area will take you on a journey to discover the stunning landscape, mountain views and native forests that surround the lake.

11. NZ's largest gondola

Whakapapa Ski Area is set to be transformed in 2019 with a new gondola opening in June - one of only two designs worldwide and the largest in New Zealand. The Sky Waka gondola will transform the mountain into a year-round, world-class visitor attraction for skiers and sightseers. 

Visitors will be transported from the Plaza area to the architecturally designed Knoll Ridge Chalet at 2020m above sea level, with breathtaking views of the Pinnacles and the central plateau. This award-winning chalet offers a great selection of food & fantastic barista coffee. Choose from a buffet, an incredible a la carte menu, or your classic New Zealand cafe-style cuisine. If you’re not skiing or boarding, you can access the Knoll Ridge Chalet by a scenic gondola ride.

You may also be interested in...


A guide to hot pools in Taupō

Locals have long enjoyed the geothermal wonders of Taupō, from gentle geothermal walkways to overnight hikes throughout majestic volcanic landscapes. Still, the real gem is experiencing Taupō's volcanic energy by soaking in its warm healing waters at one of the geothermal hot pools. 

Friends mountain biking - Sunset picnic at Kinloch - by Todd Eyre
Cycling & Mountain Biking

7 reasons why you should ride in Taupō this winter 


Winter golfing at the Taupō Golf Club 

Walking & Hiking

The 4 best hikes to summit for captivating views 

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