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South of Lake Taupo and overlooked by a triad of volcanoes, the high-altitude plateau setting of the Ruapehu region is a breathtaking location for myriad outdoor adventures. Explore the ski areas of Mount Ruapehu and the wilderness of Tongariro National Park, with its native forest and white-water rivers.
Mount Ruapehu, Ngāuruhoe and Tongariro are the lynchpins around which the Ruapehu region pivots. The Desert Road (State Highway 1) passes east of the mountains from Turangi to Waiouru, and Tongariro National Park is on the western side.
Waiouru This busy little highway village marks the turnoff to State Highway 49 around the southern side of the mountains. It’s the site of New Zealand’s National Army Museum.
Ohakune The pleasant little village of Ohakune is downright charming in winter, when all is coated with snow. It has accommodation and dining, and is a popular base for skiing.
National Park New Zealand’s highest-altitude urban settlement, at 825 metres above sea level. It’s well positioned for hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing or skiing Mount Ruapehu.
Whakapapa Village Located at the base of Mount Ruapehu and just 10 minutes’ drive from the ski area. The Bayview Chateau Tongariro hotel is an iconic local spot offering accommodation, dining and a bar.
Taumarunui The main centre of the region is located northwest of the mountains. It’s a good base for exploring the National Park, tackling the 42 Traverse mountain bike trail or starting a Whanganui River Journey.
Visit the National Army Museum at Waiouru. Spend a day hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Ski on a volcano! Brave the famous 42 Traverse mountain bike trail. Take a scenic flight over the other-worldly landscape. Go white-water rafting in Tongariro National Park.
It’s not everywhere in the world that you have the chance to ski on a live volcano, but the Whakapapa and Turoa skifields on Mount Ruapehu allow you to do just that. Ruapehu still rumbles on occasion – the most recent eruption was in 2007 – but is closely monitored by scientific authorities for any signs of increased activity.