18 Reasons To Ski At Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand

New Zealand, Snow   /  



The Ruapehu region of New Zealand is a spectacular vision in the North Island.

The three volcanic peaks of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe interrupt an otherwise flat, sparse and desert-like region.

These three peaks form part of what’s known as the Taupo Volcanic Zone and part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. It’s the sight of this dramatic volcanic landscape that makes me draw a sharp intake of breath each time I arrive.


18 Reasons To Ski At Mt Ruapehu: The landscape

Mt Ngauruhoe and Tongariro | © Juliette Sivertsen


And that’s usually most weekends during winter – as Mt Ruapehu is our ‘home’ ski field, about 4.5 hours drive south from our base in Auckland.

We love skiing and snowboarding at Mt Ruapehu so much, that both John and I are Life Pass holders – meaning we paid a reasonably exorbitant amount upfront for a ski pass which now lasts the rest of our lives. It’ll pay for itself after a few more seasons.

So what makes this ski field so special?

Here are our top reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu.


Reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu: Beautiful nature

Turoa ski field





Weather looking a bit rubbish at Turoa? No worries, check out what Whakapapa’s doing, on the other side. Keen to beat the crowds? Head to the smaller club field Tukino on the eastern slopes.

Mt Ruapehu is made up of two main commercial ski fields, Turoa and Whakapapa. Your mountain pass works for both fields. Each have their own charms – although Turoa has better lift infrastructure, while Whakapapa has more t-bars.

A little further around the corner is Tukinoa club ski field on Ruapehu. It’s not as developed so the day passes are cheaper but you’ll find plenty of freshies and uncrowded slopes. 

Reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu: three ski fields to choose from

Whakapapa ski field


Yep, Mt Ruapehu is an active volcano! While it hasn’t been rumbling lately, and the alert code mostly stays in Green, it has had a bit of a smokey past. You can tell all your mates back home you got to ski or board down an active volcano.



Hurrah! You can do night skiing at Mt Ruapehu! Open on Friday and Saturday nights from 5-9pm only at Whakapapa. It’s been great to drive down from Auckland on a Friday afternoon and start the weekend with a few hours of night skiing.

Other than Coronet Peak in Queenstown, Whakapapa is the only other major commercial ski field to offer night skiing in New Zealand.



From Mt Ruapehu, you’ll get stunning vistas of the Central Plateau. In some ways, Mt Ruapehu is like a blob of white icing on an otherwise undecorated flan – the surrounding area is rarely blanketed in snow, apart from when the odd winter storm whirls through.

And how about those incredible pinnacles? For a brief moment, you could be mistaken for being in the Swiss Alps.


Reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu: Spectacular pinnacles

Pinnacles at Whakapapa


Hate having to ski down to the bottom just for a coffee or lunch break? Don’t worry, you’ll find food and coffee options further up the mountain on both ski fields, so you don’t have to head to base for an energy boost.



Feel like racing? Throughout winter there are constantly races and competitions being held on the mountain for skiers, snowboarders and freestylers. Or you could be like us and grab a hot drink and just watch.



One of the beautiful things about snowboarding and skiing at Mt Ruapehu is the very high chance of bluebird days. Just don’t forget your sunscreen – especially if you’re throwing a sickie from work. Your goggle marks will be a tell-tale sign of a day of anything but bedrest.


Reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu: Bluebird days

Bluebird Days at Mt Ruapehu | © Juliette Sivertsen




Tukino, the little club field on Ruapehu, is the only place on the mountain which offers cat skiing. For a pretty reasonably NZD$35 you’ll be taken up to the top of Tukino to enjoy 300 vertical metres per run. Think bowls and ridges where no one else has been that day and a semi-guided trip down the best runs on the field.



Both Turoa and Whakapapa have extensive beginner and learner areas at the bottom – ideal for families and kids of all ages. Happy Valley Snow Park on Whakapapa is known as one of the best beginner areas in New Zealand. 



Located in the heart of the North Island, Mt Ruapehu is hours away from any major city, meaning there’s little light pollution to disrupt the sky. Head to the Mounds walk on the way down from Whakapapa for a beautiful night sky view above the mountains.


Reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu: the night sky

The Milky Way about the Ruapehu region


Spring is for skiing! Mt Ruapehu often has an extended season compared to the South Island’s ski fields, and a late snowfall can even keep it going through to Snovember. Spring skiing and snowboarding at Ruapehu means gorgeous bluebird days and being warm enough for one layer and a vest – and maybe even some sun bathing if you’re really keen.



Kiwis are friendly. I’m not being biased – but we are a pretty friendly bunch. And the lifties here have fabulous attitudes. They’ll start your day right with a bright smile, lots of enthusiasm and a feel-good attitude, all the while watching everyone else have a good time on the slopes. What troopers. Let’s hear it for the lifties!



Okay, okay, you’ve got to strike it lucky for powder days – New Zealand isn’t really famous for its pow. But when it comes – boy is it epic! When it’s fresh, get up the top and head out to the far sides of the ski field for fresh tracks.


Reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu: first tracks

First tracks at Mt Ruapehu


Remember those powder days we mentioned? On those days you’ll love heading down into the snow-filled basins, leaving a trail of snowdust behind you. Heaven.



Mt Ruapehu offers a variety of snowsport packages to cater for all levels. Whether you’re a first-timer just wanting to stand up straight, or a confident skier/boarder looking to advance into expert territory, Mt Ruapehu’s snow school has group and private lessons available for all.



Keen for some freestyle action? Both Whakapapa and Turoa have dedicated terrain parks with rails, boxes and XL jumps.


Reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu: terrain parks

Airtime at Turoa


We talked about how great the lifties are at Mt Ruapehu. It’s not just them who have great attitudes – it’s everyone in the nearby towns too. Everyone puts on a fabulous welcome, no matter who you are.



There’s a ton of accommodation available if you’re snowboarding or skiing at Mt Ruapehu. If you join a ski club, you can stay in the club’s ski lodges, including the on-mountain lodges at Whakapapa.

If you’re skiing at Whakapapa, look for accommodation in the National Park, such as the splendid and iconic Chateau Tongariro.

If you’re staying Turoa side, the main ski town is Ohakune, but Rangataua and Raetihi are 5-10min drive away if you can’t find anything in town. The New World in Ohakune is the closest supermarket and is open til 8pm or 9pm most nights. 


And there’s always Airbnb – which we use all the time. If you’re new to Airbnb, grab $30 off your first trip when you sign up through this link. 


Reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu: variety of accommodation

Aorangi Ski Lodge, Whakapapa


DISCUSS: What are your favourite reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu?



Discover the best reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand!


 likes / 71 Comments
Share this post:
  • Whenever I read your blog, either wish I skied or snorkeled haha this looks like a beautiful place to play! #FarawayFiles

  • Lisa Rivera

    You’re so lucky you have on this beautiful place on your doorstep. I’ve yet to visit your beautiful country, so I’d love to come and see Mt Ruapehu. I’m not a skier, so it’s good to know I can take some lessons. And yes, I agree that Kiwis are very friendly 🙂

    • Yes we are very lucky! New Zealand is so diverse. And even if you don’t ski, the Ruapehu region has some amazing hikes such as the famous Tongariro Crossing – good for summer!

  • Maggie Alexander

    That’s one of the most beautiful ski slopes I have ever seen! And how awesome that it’s on an active volcano. I love that it’s family friendly too. The lifetime pass sounds so cool! More places should offer it.

    • Such a great mountain with something for everyone! There are always heaps of families around, a great winter getaway!

  • AdventureTravelFam

    This looks like a gorgeous place to ski; and an active volcano, wow! The life passes are such a good idea, accommodation is usually reasonable around ski resorts but the passes hike it up! Have you skiied in Europe at all?

    • It’s one of our favourite places to be in the winter! No sadly I haven’t skied in Europe yet! We did Japan earlier this year which was incredible, and hoping to get to Canada this coming season. Europe is definitely on the list!

  • Stacey

    New Zealand looks so beautiful covered in snow! I’ve never been snow skiing, but l’d love to see the mountains. Your pictures really are gorgeous!

    • The mountains are gorgeous here! And lots of great hiking available through the mountains if you don’t ski.

  • I would love to go a skiing holiday to Mt Ruapehu. Everything about it looks so gorgeous. Although I hadn’t really heard of night skiing here, I would love to try it out. Cheers!!

    • Night skiing sure is fun and a great way to get a few extra hours on the slopes! Ruapehu is a pretty magnificent mountain.

  • You are so fortunately to have all those incredible places in Europe to go skiing! I loved your latest post too. There’s a lot of debate as to which area is best for skiing in NZ, obviously Queenstown/Wanaka regions are very well known but a lot of locals rate Mt Ruapehu as one of the best. There’s a huge variety of terrain there. And so glad we have Life Passes now! There are some good perks for overseas skiing too as a life pass holder.

  • TravelforStamps

    I already want to go to New Zealand because of Hobbiton, but skiing on an active volcano???? Come on, who doesn’t want to do that!? It sounds amazing! Sign me up! lol

  • Cindy Collins

    Skying on an active volcano sounds like an epic thing to do! And night skying sounds fun too. New Zealand is so amazing, Those photos look spectacular. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sarah Ebner

    I cannot imagine being near such an incredible place! New Zealand is on my bucket list, but I hadn’t thought about it for skiing. This is beautiful – and family friendly and an active volcano!! So many selling points…

    • New Zealand has some awesome ski fields…Mt Ruapehu in the North Island and SO MANY ski fields in the South. Definitely an awesome place to escape to! Lots of adventure sports and activities here. We love the outdoors.

  • We used to do a lot of skiing, but we always went down to the South Island for the ski season. We quite liked Wanaka. Ruapehu is a nice mountain, but we have some negative memories of the place as my youngest broke her leg on the slopes there when she was six.

    • Wanaka is beautiful! We plan to move to Queenstown so we can be closer to the mountains, still 4.5 hrs drive to Ruapehu from Auckland. Terrible to hear about your daughter though! What an awful experience.

  • Toby Richardson

    I’m dying to get to Ruapehu and you have made it look just that much better.

  • Your photos are absolutely stunning, wow! I’ll show this to hubby who is always complaining about the cold: the snow can be so beautiful! 🙂

  • Tamara Wilcox

    Skiing on an active volcano? That would be a cool thing to add to my resume! I had no idea ski resorts sold “life passes”. That definitely shows dedication and passion for skiing! You’ve shown many great reasons to ski at Mt Ruapehu — any one of which would be enough for me!

    • I don’t think there are many ski resorts that do life passes and the ones at Ruapehu only come out once every 5-10 years!

  • I have a New Zealander friend and now I understand why she loves to ski at Mt. Ruapehu that much.

    I would like to have a question (though I know it’s dump). How can you ski at the night time? Do you have great system of light or you can enjoy the bright sky of Milky Way?

    • The ski trails are all floodlit and only the bottom part of the mountain is open – so yes, there are lights that allow you to see the trail clearly. There are a couple of spots where it is dark so you have to go slowly.

  • Skiing on Active volcano in Ruapehu must be so adventurous. Loved those night sky photos as it is most beautiful thing I would love to watch. I don’t know skiing but then also I will gor capturing stunning photos of snow capped peaks.Lovely tips.

  • Carol

    Your pictures of MT RUAPEHU are so good. New Zealand is really the place for skiing…being so down under!

  • I guess a 4.5 hours drive in New Zealand isn’t considered far. So you are at the doorstep of a most beautiful region for summer and winter excursions. I’m not into snowboarding and no more to skiing. But I’m sure there are possibilities to do some snowshoe hikes, too? Your pictures are magic!

    • It’s an easy weekend road trip! Lots of mountain biking and hiking in the summertime…I’m not sure about showshoe hikes though. It’s not something I’ve ever seen advertised. Maybe a new business opportunity 😛

  • Glimpses of The World

    I’m not much of a fan of skiing, but this looks adorable. You’re right, just a glance at those peaks would make you realize how breath taking they are. I love the name – Pacific Ring of Fire. 🙂 And how nice it is that there is a cafe up there. The view must be amazing.
    I don’t even know what to say about that night sky. My first though was that “it can’t be real”! 😀 It’s stunning!

    • It’s just magical getting away from the city and out into nature! You can do the sightseeing tour instead!

  • FlyDriveExplore

    Sounds a great ski venue – skiing an active volcano! Also you can get some good skiing during the northern hemisphere summer time. With the Kiwis, it sounds a fun and relaxed resort. Maybe a little more laid back than some of the European venues.

    • Yes, we get a lot of people from Europe who want to ski year-round so they come to NZ during our winter! And yes – very laid-back, typical Kiwi attitude!

  • Gokul

    I have trekked two active volcanoes while in Indonesia. But skiing on one looks like an exciting thing to do, Not that I am good at skiing.

    • Trekking volcanoes sounds like a great activity – you’ll have to add the skiing soon! Some nice beginner trails though if you aren’t too confident.

  • Samantha Applewhaite

    Wow these photos are magnificent!! I’ve never gone skiing or snowboarding before so I would need to start on the bunny slopes hehe. But I would just go to take in those views!

    • Thanks Samantha! Yes, we all have to start somewhere! The beginners section is pretty good. And you can always take a sightseeing chairlift up higher the mountain!

  • I’ve never really though of New Zealand as a skiing destination, one more reason to go! Though I’ve never skied before, I’d love to try it and being able to take photos of the Milky Way (btw, gorgeous photo!) is another plus for me. If only New Zealand wasn’t so far away 🙁

    • We have heaps of ski fields! Ruapehu is the only one in the North Island but there are tons all over Canterbury and Central Otago, around Queenstown and Wanaka – they’re really popular and well known. It’s hard when NZ is so far away but it’s worth the trip!

  • 2travellingsisters

    I love every single picture of yours, they are so stunning! It is the first time I’m reading about Mt Ruapehu but I have to say this would be one skiing trip I wouldn’t ever forget in my life. The Bluebird days, Powder days and ofcourse the night sky would be my favourite picturesamong all. I can understad why you have taken up the lifetime pass, it is totally worth every penny!

    • Thank you! Ruapehu is an awesome mountain. I love spring skiing there with lovely blue skies, although it can be a little icy. Love the night sky!

  • I have not been skiiing yet but this looks like a nice place to visit and watch others. The fact that its on a volcano excites me 🙂

  • Edith Carolina Rodriguez

    So beautiful! You’ve got me convinced that I need to go here. How cool is that!? To sky down a volcano and enjoy those night views would be my favorite part. I’ll have to try skiing one day though since I’ve only snowboarded.

    • Wonderful Edith! So glad you are going to come and visit! It’s a good snowboarding mountain too – my husband snowboards.

  • Kerri McConnel

    This is just beautiful. As someone who doesn’t have much access to snow, one of the things I love (almost a fairytale thing) is on mountain cafes. To me, there’s nothing better than sitting up in amongst it all, eating and drinking and looking out on the whiteness. Always love your snow experiences and this area looks just stunning.

    • Thanks Kerri! I love mountain cafes too – especially when it’s dumping outside and you need a break from the cold and warm up with a hot drink looking out to the slopes.

  • Clare Thomson

    I love the expression, ‘bluebird day’! Haven’t heard it before but it’s my favourite time to ski – sunny, blue skies and the crisp snow below. Heavenly! You’ve totally convinced me that Mt Ruapehu is THE place to ski in New Zealand. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  • travellingslacker

    Not sure if Skiing is my thing but I will go there even without that after reading this post. Great photographs of snowy landscapes always have that impact. Also, some astrophotography here seems to be a bucket list-worthy idea.

  • Janna C.

    Wow this place sure looks so stunning and dreamy. I’ve never really heard of this place before so thank you for introducing me to Mt Ruapehu. I love skiing so this would be an ideal place for me to visit someday.

    • Glad to have introduced Ruapehu to you! If you don’t like skiing there are some amazing hikes and mountain biking trails in the region in summer.

  • Punita Malhotra

    This is one of those posts where the dramatic photography needs no words at all. The visuals alone convey everything. Such a breathtaking place. i wish we had known about it when we went to NZ.

  • You had me at that night sky! Lifetime passes – wow, impressive commitment! What a beautiful home mountain. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles

    • Ha ha – yep, sure is beautiful! Life passes are expensive (they only are on offer once every 5-10 years) but we think it is worth it!

  • Vyjay Rao

    Mt Ruapehu looks like a white wonderland. Usually when we think skiing, the usual destinations that come to mind are Switzerland and France. But Mt Ruapehu looks really great. The thrill of skiing on an active volcano seems irresistible. The views and the night sky seem really out of the world. Enough reasons to head out to Mt Ruapehu.

    • It’s a gorgeous mountain, especially the Whakapapa side. And of course, we have a different ski season to Europe so you can ski Switzerland and then NZ to ski year round!

  • Wow this looks like such a beautiful place to ski and snowboard! It’s so epic that you have a lifetime pass and would be so worth the money if you are using it every season! We are heading to New Zealand next year so we will have to add this to our list!

    • It’s gorgeous – some really fun trails. What time of year are you heading to NZ? You should definitely do the Tongariro Crossing, if you haven’t planned it already!

  • I have only ever tried dry ski slopes and hated it but would love to actually try proper skiing and this looks like an awesome place to do it! Stunning pictures too – as always 🙂 I need to book myself a trip I think!

  • Life time lift pass?! Wow that is so cool. I don’t know many places in the US that offers that or maybe they do but I’ve never looked lol. This looks like an awesome place to go snowboarding!

    • Yes – expensive up front but worth it given we ski there every year! Not very common, and they only bring it out on offer once every 5-10 years I think.


> <
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec