Day 3 - 5
You have a choice of locations in which to base yourself as you explore the Central Plateau and North Island ski areas. Taupō is a bustling lakeside resort town ski shuttles operating daily throughout the winter season and a buzzing cafe and restaurant scene.
You might also wish to spend time in National Park or Whakapapa Village, two smaller settlements close to the Whakapapa ski area. Ohakune, at the southern edge of the Tongariro National Park, sits serenely at the foot of the majestic Mt Ruapehu’s Turoa ski area.
Whakapapa Ski Area on Mt Ruapehu opens in early June and Turoa Ski Area opens early July, offering peak skiing and boarding all the way through to October. There are 54 runs to choose from within a total ski area of 1050 hectares and a great range of packages to suit all skier or boarder abilities or simply enjoy the sightseeing chairlift to lunch at Knoll Ridge Cafe, New Zealand’s highest cafe. Whakapapa is set to be transformed for the 2019 season with a new gondola – one of only two of its design in the world – which will travel 1.8km’s through rugged and spectacular landscapes past waterfalls and snow-laden peaks to the award-winning Knoll Ridge Café.
If that doesn’t satiate your appetite for alpine terrain, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is also nearby. Classified as one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, this one-day hike is a spectacular journey from alpine meadows to mountain summit across a surreal landscape of craters, jewel-toned lakes and volcanic rocks.
A visit to Taupō wouldn’t be complete without a day on the crystal-blue lake fishing, boating, sailing or viewing the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, followed by a hot soak in one of the many thermal hot pools. Taupō is also an adrenaline junkie’s mecca. Jet boats, bungy jumping, mountain biking, whitewater rafting and skydiving are all on offer in this nature lover’s paradise, and be sure to experience the power and roar of the mighty Huka Falls, one of New Zealand’s most photographed scenic wonders.