Top North Island Ski Destinations

New Zealand North Island Ski Destinations Article Featured Image

New Zealand’s North Island, while often overshadowed by the South Island’s more famous ski fields, offers unique ski destinations that combine fascinating volcanic landscapes with thrilling winter sports opportunities. Here are the top North Island ski destinations, each offering a distinct experience with recommended dining, lodging, and activities.

1. Whakapapa – Mount Ruapehu

Whakapapa on Mount Ruapehu is the largest ski area in New Zealand and boasts a stunning array of volcanic terrains, making it a must-visit destination for skiing enthusiasts. With over 550 hectares of ski terrain, it caters to all skill levels, from complete beginners to advanced skiers.

Lodging: Stay at the Chateau Tongariro Hotel, which provides a touch of luxury with its historical charm and stunning views of the mountain. It’s an ideal base for exploring the ski slopes.

Dining: The Pihanga Cafe & T-Bar at the Chateau offers a cozy dining experience with a range of tasty dishes perfect for refueling after a day on the slopes. For a more upscale option, the Ruapehu Room delivers fine dining with local ingredients.

Activities: Beyond skiing, take a scenic ride on the Sky Waka gondola for breathtaking views across the Tongariro National Park. For après-ski, relax in the hotel’s Ruapehu Lounge with a cocktail by the fireplace.

Must-See Sights: The dramatic landscape of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, accessible during summer, is a must-see for its stunning volcanic features and dynamic terrain.

2. Turoa – Mount Ruapehu

Turoa also sits on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu and offers a different experience with the largest vertical drop in Australasia. Its south-west facing slopes capture plentiful snow, providing excellent skiing conditions throughout the season.

Lodging: The Powderhorn Chateau in Ohakune is a unique timber hotel offering a cozy, welcoming atmosphere that feels like a true alpine experience. It’s a great spot to unwind after a day on the mountain.

Dining: The hotel’s Powderkeg Restaurant is an institution in the area, known for its vibrant atmosphere and hearty meals. It’s the go-to spot for both locals and visitors.

Activities: Turoa is known for its natural half-pipes and thrilling terrain parks. The ski area also offers ski school programs and equipment rentals for all ages and skill levels.

Must-See Sights: Ohakune itself is a sight to behold, with its famous carrot statue and beautiful surrounding forests. Explore local walking tracks, or relax in one of the town’s many spas.

3. Manganui Ski Area – Mount Taranaki

Manganui is a club field on the slopes of the stunning Mount Taranaki. This smaller, more intimate ski area offers a unique and friendly skiing experience, perfect for those looking to escape the more commercialized resorts.

Lodging: Stay at the Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge, located within Egmont National Park. This charming lodge offers easy access to the ski area and breathtaking views of the surrounding forest and mountain.

Dining: The Stratford Mountain House offers a memorable dining experience, featuring dishes prepared with fresh, local produce. It’s a scenic spot to enjoy a meal after a day on the slopes.

Activities: Manganui has a unique charm with its natural terrain featuring both groomed runs and challenging off-piste areas for the adventurous skier. The ski club often hosts community events, making it a great way to meet local skiers.

Must-See Sights: Don’t miss the opportunity to hike around Mount Taranaki. The area is known for its lush rainforests and dramatic waterfalls, offering beautiful landscapes year-round.