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

Skiing the North Island has largely been under wraps for many years, but we've revealed 13 reasons why you should consider a ski holiday in Taupo, New Zealand.

1. NZ’s largest ski areas

Whakapapa Ski Area and Turoa are the two 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. Access to the snow is easy

Take the hassle out of getting to the snow with daily mountain transport from Taupo and Turangi to Whakapapa (return). Get picked up straight from your accommodation with Adventure HQ or take the Mt Ruapehu snow shuttle, which also departs daily from the Snow Depot right in the heart of Taupo town.

3. 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? Taupo is a volcanic, geothermal wonderland with natural thermal hot pools perfect for a soak at the end of a long day. The kids will love you for it!

4. 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 has to offer with ski and snowboard lessons, sledding, snowball fights and building snowmen.

5. Family-friendly apres ski

There’s a whole lot going on in Taupo 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 Taupo with the mountains of Tongariro National Park beyond.

6. Discover an ancient and spiritual landscape

The ski areas of Whakapapa and Turoa are located within the Tongariro National Park – which in 1990 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 in the world with Dual World Heritage status.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. New Zealand’s longest ski season

Thanks to a new state-of-the-art ‘Snow Factory’, which can make snow in temperatures up to 25˚C, Whakapapa now boasts the longest ski season in Australasia. Happy Valley is scheduled to open on 1 June, with the 2019 season planned to go right through until 13 October. The upper mountain at Whakapapa Ski Area is scheduled to be open 22 June – 28 October. Spring skiing can be the most fun you have all season, with blue sky days, spring snow, shorter lift queues and discounts on lift passes.

11. Pumice is the new gold

It’s not only the ski areas that benefit from brilliant terrain as 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!

12. Off mountain activities on tap

Taupo has a huge compliment of off-mountain activities that are different to 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 Taupo. 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.

13. 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 in the world 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 breath-taking 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.

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