A Travel Guide to Ohakune, Tongariro and Ruapehu
A small town with some of the North Island’s biggest natural attractions, Ohakune is a highlight on the New Zealand itinerary. The town, at the base of New Zealand’s largest volcano, Mt Ruapehu, is surrounded by the Tongariro National Park, the Whanganui National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Area. It is also one of the very few towns in New Zealand that is more alive in winter, with the ski season in full swing on the upper slopes of Mt Ruapehu. Throughout the year, however, the area is a mecca for mountain biking, hiking (including the infamous Tongariro Crossing), canoeing and much more.
Like the sound of Ohakune? Use this travel guide to Ohakune as a springboard to planning a trip to suit your travel style, whether it’s budget, luxury, family or a couples’ getaway.
Fast Facts About Ohakune
Location: In the centre of the North Island, just south of Mt Ruapehu in the Manawatu-Whanganui region.
Climate: Daily average temperature – 10.9°C/51.6°F, yearly average rainfall – 1,353mm/53.3”
Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?
Time zone: NZST / GMT+12/+13
How to get to Ohakune: Ohakune is well connected to the rest of New Zealand by road, located on State Highway 49 just off State Highway 1. You can also reach Ohakune by train from Auckland and Wellington. The closest international airport is Wellington Airport (4 hours drive) with plenty of car rental options available. Ohakune is also on the main national bus route, which you can find more information about in Bus Networks in New Zealand.
Ohakune for Budget Travellers
Ohakune might be known for some pretty pricey experiences like skiing on Mt Ruapehu or canoeing on the Whanganui River. However, you can enjoy a good few days in the town without spending too much. You’ll find some fantastic free walks in town and along the Ohakune Mountain Road on the lower slopes of Mt Ruapehu. There are historical sites and museums to check out, as well as the Ohakune Old Coach Road to enjoy on foot for a minute price. What’s more, Ohakune has plenty of budget-stays to suit most travellers’ tastes. So plan your budget getaway with The Guide to Ohakune on a Budget.
Budget Activities in Ohakune
- Do the Mangawhero Forest Walk
- Hike to Waitonga Falls and Mangawhero Falls
- Visit the Ohakune Rail Museum
- Cuddle the Ohakune Carrot
- Visit the National Army Museum.
For more recommendations, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Ohakune.
Budget Accommodation in Ohakune
From budget lodges to backpacker hostels to motels to the sole holiday park, Ohakune offers plenty of options to those travelling on a budget. Check out some of our recommendations in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Ohakune.
Ohakune for Luxury Travellers
If experiencing the most majestic volcanoes and Jurrasic-like forests of the North Island is your kind of luxury then you’ll love what Ohakune has to offer. In winter, hit the slope of New Zealand’s two largest ski fields on Mt Ruapehu. In summer, venture on a scenic journey by canoe or jet boat on the Whanganui River. There are specialised guided hikes of the Tongariro Crossing, to Mt Ruapehu’s crater lake and more offering a challenging yet rewarding way to experience the area. Then, with relaxing boutique lodges, B&Bs and hotels in town, you’ll be able to rest in the serenity of your luxurious room. Plan your premium stay with The Luxury Guide to Ohakune.
Luxury Experiences in Ohakune
- Take a Guided Hike of the Tongariro Crossing, Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake and more
- Hit the ski slopes of Mt Ruapehu
- Tee off at the Waimarino Golf Club
- Venture down the Whanganui River by jet boat
- Complete the Whanganui Journey Great Walk on a guided experience.
Sounds pretty epic, right? Check out more information on each experience in the 9 Luxury Activities in Ohakune.
Luxury Accommodation in Ohakune
From lavish ski chalets to luxury B&Bs, Ohakune has some stellar stays for all group sizes. You’ll find luxury holiday homes with their own extensive forest and gardens, as well as boutique hotels and lodges. Check out our favourites in the 6 Best Luxury Accommodation in Ohakune.
Ohakune for Families
There are many reasons for families to flock to Ohakune, and why so many Kiwi families actually do. The ski fields of Turoa and Whakapapa are fantastic for kids to learn how to ski, while the free and cheap experiences like family-friendly walks, playgrounds, climbing walls and even a dinosaur museum are easy ways to earn brownie points with the kids. Jet boating on the Whanganui River and horse trekking are other family adventures to be had when the mountain is closed or when, well, you just don’t want to ski. What’s more, you have plenty of family-friendly accommodation in Ohakune to complete your stay. Check out our family travel tips in The Guide to Ohakune for Families.
Family Activities in Ohakune
- Horse trek through streams and a historic town with Ruapehu Homestead Horsetrekking
- Hire bikes and ride the Jubilee Walkway, Mangawhero River Trail and more
- Let the kids loose at the Ohakune Carrot playground
- Tackle the indoor climbing walls at the Vertigo Adventure Centre
- Check out Dinosaur House
- Treat the kids to a world-famous chocolate eclair.
For more information on each activity and their locations, check out the 10 Things to Do in Ohakune with Kids.
Kid-friendly Accommodation in Ohakune
Budget to luxury group chalets, convenient motels and a holiday park with a kids’ club during the holidays, Ohakune offers so much for families it can be hard to choose! We’ll help you out with our 10 Best Family Accommodation in Ohakune.
Ohakune for Couples
Ohakune is a destination made for couples who love to adventure together. Stretch your muscles because you could be taking on the Tongariro Crossing, canoeing on the Whanganui Journey, horse trekking to the backdrop of a snowcapped volcano, mountain biking the Ohakune Old Coach road and more. While there are epic experiences you’ll always remember together, it’s not all go, go, go. Couples can also enjoy indulgent shared spa treatments, as well as romantic restaurants in town. Check out more tips to help plan your trip in The Honeymoon Guide to Ohakune.
Romantic Activities in Ohakune
- Tackle the Tongariro Crossing together
- Test your teamwork in a canoe on the Whanganui Journey
- Experience the Ruapehu scenery on a horse trek
- Indulge in a couples’ massage
- Cycle the Ohakune Old Coach Road.
For more details on each experience and more, check out the 7 Romantic Activities in Ohakune for Couples.
Romantic Accommodation in Ohakune
A romantic ski chalet? How about a boutique B&B with amazing mountain views? What about a countryside lodge with luxurious spa pools and gorgeous gardens? Take your pick from the 10 Best Romantic Accommodation in Ohakune.
Ohakune for Foodies
This is the part of our destination guides where we offer you all of the foodie activities, tours and farmers’ markets of the town. Well, in Ohakune, your foodie experiences are limited to just some of the fantastic eateries, which isn’t all bad.
Many will say that a must-do is picking up a chocolate eclair from Johnny Nation’s Chocolate Eclair Shop during the winter season or indulging in a wood-fired pizza at La Pizzeria. There are coffee containers, cosy bars and restaurants where sitting by the fireplace is a standard. And if you’re a big fan of vegetables, well, there’s a giant carrot sculpture and vegetable-themed playground at the entrance to the town, so there you go!
For more on Ohakune’s restaurants across the main town centre and The Junction part of town, check out some of our other guides. For instance, you’ll find fine dining in The Luxury Guide to Ohakune, romantic restaurants in The Honeymoon Guide to Ohakune and cheap eats in The Guide to Ohakune on a Budget.