Things You Can’t Miss in Ohakune!
Ohakune is a small town with big adventures! Located on the southern slopes of Mt Ruapehu, Ohakune is a skier’s paradise in winter and a hikers, mountain bikers and even canoeist’s dream in summer. Whether you’re looking for your next outdoor adventure or just a great place to sample the local cuisine, Ohakune is a great place to do it! We’ll go through all the best things to do in Ohakune right here!
Ohakune is an awesome base for adventures in the Tongariro National Park and Whanganui National Park. This list of Ohakune activities will give you options from things to do in town to walks, bike rides and campsites within driving distance. For ways to save the cents while staying in the town, check out our 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Ohakune.
1. Waitonga Falls Track
Just an 11km drive up the Ohakune Mountain Road is the 1h20min walk to Waitonga Falls. Walk through stunning mountain beech forest, across alpine wetlands with wonderful views of Mt Ruapehu, and to the tallest waterfall in the Tongariro National Park. Return the same way.
Location: 20 minutes drive from Ohakune. Drive 11km up the Ohakune Mountain Road where the walk is well sign-posted.
2. Walk or Cycle the Old Coach Road
Walk or ride in the footsteps of the early pioneers on the Old Coach Road cycle trail. The 15km one-way journey takes riders/walkers between Horopito and The Junction end of Ohakune township. The grade 2 trail is suitable for most abilities usually taking about 2h20min to complete by bike, and 4h30min to complete on foot. Go on a journey through the magnificent forest and discover railway relics along the way, including viaducts and tunnels. For more epic bike trails in the area, see Mountain Biking in Ruapehu.
Location: Most prefer to take a shuttle from Ohakune to Horopito (10 minutes drive away) and ride/walk back into town. Shuttles can be organised with the TCB bike shop. The Old Coach Road ends at The Junction end of Ohakune.
3. Check Out the Giant Carrot!
Whether you love vegetables of not, you can’t miss the Ohakune Carrot! A sign of pride for the town, the Ohakune Carrot signifies the pride of the town being the “Carrot Capital of New Zealand”.
Location: On the east side of the town of State Highway 49. Walk either along the footpaths past the gas station or take the Jubilee Walkway (see below).
4. Go Skiing at the Turoa Ski Field
In winter, Ohakune becomes a ski town thanks to the proximity of the Turoa Ski Field. Turoa ski field has the longest vertical run in New Zealand down the slopes of Mt Ruapehu! If ticking off skiing on an active volcano is on your bucket list, then this is the place to do it. The winter season usually lasts between late June – late September. Book your lift pass here and learn more about North Island skiing in Ski Season in New Zealand: North Island or South Island?
Location: 25 minutes drive from Ohakune. Take the Ohakune Mountain Road to the end. Alternatively, mountain shuttles operate between Ohakune and Turoa throughout the winter.
5. Round the Mountain Track
For an adventurous hiking journey around Mt Ruapehu, take the Round the Mountain Track! This 4-6 day loop track takes you through a range of magnificent landscapes on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu from forest to wetlands to volcanic plateau and more. This is a great alternative to the generally busier Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk. The walk can begin and end at the Ohakune Mountain Road.
Location: 20 minutes drive from Ohakune. Follow the Ohakune Mountain Road for 11km to a small car park where the track is signposted.
6. Check Out The Junction
Ohakune town is packed with great places to eat and drink, but probably the more “hipster” side of town is The Junction! With clubs and bars alive during winter, it’s the place to experience the “apres-ski” vibe. Grab a bite to eat from the Kings bar or a delicious pizza from La Pizzeria all year round.
Location: From Ohakune town centre, take either Miro Street all the way to the end or Goldfinch Street onto Mangawhero Terrace all the way to the end. The most scenic route to walk there is via the Mangawhero River Walk (30 minutes one way) starting opposite Burns Street on Ohakune Town.
7. Walk the Jubilee Walkway
For an easy walk accessible from the town centre of Ohakune, try the Jubilee Walk. The Jubilee Walk (20 minutes one way) winds through bush and alongside the Mangateitei Stream. There are several access points to the walk that goes between Burns Street and the Ohakune Carrot.
Location: Start from either the Ohakune Carrot or Burns Street.
8. Walk the Mangawhero Forest Track
Within walking distance of the town, the Mangawhero Forest Track (1-hour loop) is a great example of native New Zealand forest. Signs along the way help you identify the abundance of trees as you make your way alongside and over a bridge crossing the Mangawhero River.
Location: Start from the bottom of the Ohakune Mountain Road opposite the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre.
9. Hit the Indoor Climbing Wall
When the weather isn’t playing ball, the indoor climbing wall is a saviour! With different climbing challenges perfect for children and adults alike, it’s a fun way to kill an hour or so in Ohakune. Plus, the clip and climb system means that you can climb walls safely and independently.
Location: Vertigo Adventure Centre, on the corner of Goldfinch Street & Ayr Street.
10. Canoe the Whanganui Journey
One of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Whanganui Journey, is accessible from Ohakune thanks to the canoe hire operators and shuttle services operating in the town. The Whanganui Journey is a 3 or 5-day canoe trip down the historically significant and breathtakingly beautiful Whanganui River. For more information about the trip, take a look at our Guide to the Whanganui Journey.
Location: 55 minutes drive from Ohakune to Cherry Grove, Taumarunui, when doing the 5-day trip. Or 2h15min drive from Ohakune to Whakahoro when doing the 3-day trip.
11. Tackle the Tongariro Crossing
Ohakune makes a great base for tackling New Zealand’s most popular day hike, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Shuttles to and from the crossing can be organised from Ohakune, making the logistics of the Crossing a breeze to organise. The Tongariro Crossing is a 19.4km one-way journey over dramatic volcanic landscapes. It’s best done during late spring, summer and early autumn. See Tongariro Crossing Accommodation and Transport: A Practical Guide for more information on how to plan the hike from Ohakune.
Location: 45 minutes drive from Ohakune to the Mangatepopo Car Park end of the Tongariro Crossing.
12. Enjoy Free Camping at the Ruatiti Domain
Escape to the countryside and enjoy the great outdoors of the Ruatiti Domain! This free campsite along the Manganuioteao River with a warm climate. The river has some great swimming spots, beaches by the river, and trout fishing (make sure you have a license). Camping facilities include a BBQ area, toilets and picnic tables.
Location: 35 minutes drive from Ohakune. From State Highway 4, take the Ruatiti Road. The campsite is down a short gravel road just after the road bridge going over the river.
13. Take on the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail
The top of the Ohakune Mountain Road on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu is the official start of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail. Travel on this epic cycle journey on a 3-6 day, 217km challenge from Mt Ruapehu to the end of the Whanganui River. Highlights of the trail include volcanic landscapes of the Tongariro National Park, remarkable forest in the Whanganui National Park and the Bridge to Nowhere. Mountain bike hire and shuttle operators in town will be able to help you plan your adventure.
Location: Start from the base of Turoa Ski Field, 25 minutes drive from Ohakune on the Ohakune Mountain Road.
14. Visit the Tangiwai Memorial
Learn about a piece of New Zealand history at the Tangiwai Memorial. Interpretation panels tell the story of New Zealand’s worst railway accident in history where 151 passengers were killed from a collapsing bridge caused by a lahar from the erupting Mt Ruapehu.
Location: 10 minutes drive from Ohakune. 18km along State Highway 49 heading east.