Tongariro National Park forms a very special part of New Zealand’s history. Established in 1887, it was the country’s first National Park, the fourth in the world and has gained international significance by being awarded UNESCO Dual World Heritage status. This status recognises the park’s important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.
The team at Mt Ruapehu Ski Areas have been granted a concession to operate within Tongariro National Park, giving the ski area special attributes that stem from being allowed to operate in this unique volcanic landscape.
If you’ve never skied on a volcano, active or otherwise, you’re in for a treat. The volcanic landscape of Whakapapa Ski Area lends itself to brilliant terrain features for skiers and snowboarders. Think natural halfpipes, chutes, bowls and drops over the edge of centuries-old lava flows. Some of the southern hemisphere’s best extreme skiing comps are held here, with The Pinnacles being a favourite location for these types of events.
Much of the ski area can be viewed from the expansive deck at the architectural award winning Knoll Ridge Café, the highest café in New Zealand, so if skiing isn’t your thing you can still feel like part of the action. Knoll Ridge Café is also the perfect place for panoramic views of the other two volcanoes within Tongariro National Park – Mt Ngauruhoe – the perfect conical shaped volcano that was filmed as Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Mt Tongariro - home of the famed Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
All in all, Whakapapa Ski Area really is 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 Black Magic backcountry area. Beginner and intermediate skiers will feel at home on the lower slopes and in Happy Valley Snow Park, New Zealand’s biggest beginner area.