Ski and snowboard instruction, sledding, snowball battles, and snowman building are just a few of the activities available for a fun family winter holiday. Here are 13 tips for a special snowy holiday:
1. New Zealand larges ski areas
Whakapapa and Turoa are the two largest commercial ski areas in New Zealand – yep there’s more skiable terrain on these two ski areas than the South Island’s Cardrona, The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt all put together!
2. Access to the snow is easy
Take the hassle out of getting to the snow with daily mountain transport from Taupo and Turangi to Whakapapa (return).The Mt Ruapehu snow shuttle departs daily from the Snow Depot right in the heart of Taupo town, so you can sort all your gear hire and passes before you leave – all you have to worry about is jumping on board and enjoying the stunning volcanic scenery along the way.
3. Geothermal wonders, hot pools and bubbling mud
Who doesn’t love to soak away the aches and pains of a day spent on the snow, or just relax and unwind? Taupo is a volcanic, geothermal wonderland with natural thermal pools perfect for a soak at the end of a long day. The kids will love you for it!
4. New Zealand’s largest beginner ski area
Whakapapa Ski Area is home to Happy Valley, New Zealand’s largest beginner ski and snow play area. Here you can spend the day experiencing the best that a family winter holiday has to offer with ski and snowboard lessons, sledding, snowball fights and building snowmen!
5. Family-friendly apres ski
There’s a whole lot going on in Taupō after a day on the slopes! Come and see the town come to life with fairy light-lined streets and cosy bars and restaurants with hearty winter food menus, mulled wine and crackling fires to sit beside. There’s everything from craft beer and wood-fired pizza in lakefront pubs to gourmet cuisine in top restaurants and family-friendly dining throughout the town. Many of these establishments offer spectacular sunset views and a vista of the massive Lake Taupō with the mountains of Tongariro National Park beyond.
6. Discover an ancient and spiritual landscape
The ski areas of Whakapapa and Turoa are located within the Tongariro National Park – which in 1990 was declared a World Heritage site in recognition of its outstanding natural characteristics. But it wasn’t just recognised once, the Park was then granted Cultural World Heritage status in 1993 in recognition of its cultural significance and history. The park is one of only 29 sites in the world with Dual World Heritage status.
7. You are skiing an active volcano!
Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Areas sit proudly on Mt Ruapehu, the largest of the three volcanoes located within the renowned Tongariro National Park. The volcanic landscape lends itself to brilliant terrain features for skiers and snowboarders – think natural halfpipes, chutes and wide-open bowls that stem from centuries-old lava flows.
8. New Zealand’s highest café
The Knoll Ridge Café on Whakapapa Ski Area is New Zealand’s highest café! At 2020m above sea level, with breathtaking views of the Pinnacles and valley below this award-winning architecturally designed café was awarded the Design Curial Best Designed Café in the World, 2015. If you’re not skiing or boarding, you can access the Knoll Ridge Café by scenic chairlift ride. We think it’s definitely worth the visit!
9. Discover Middle Earth
Some scenes of the fictional Mordor and Mount Doom in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy were filmed on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu. Discover this filming location and impressive views towards Mt Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom), located just a short 15-30-minute walk from the base area of Whakapapa.
10. Perfect terrain for all levels
Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Areas are 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 backcountry ski areas. Beginner and intermediate skiers will feel at home on the lower slopes and in the dedicated beginner areas.
11. New Zealand’s longest ski season
Thanks to a brand new state-of-the-art ‘Snow Factory’, which has the ability to make snow in temperatures up to 25˚C, Whakapapa now boasts the longest ski season in Australasia. Happy Valley is scheduled to open on 2 July, with the 2018 season planned to go right through until 22 October. Spring skiing can be the most fun you have all season, with blue sky days, spring snow, shorter lift queues and discounts on lift passes.
12. Pumice is the new gold
It’s not only the ski areas that benefit from brilliant terrain as result of volcanic activity. Derived from one of the greatest volcanic eruptions ever known, the region’s free-draining pumice soil means excellent cycling and mountain biking conditions year-round – even in the middle of winter. And if it’s golfing and hiking you’re into, you can thank that super volcano for great conditions also. No muddy puddles!
13. Off mountain activities on tap
Taupō has a huge compliment of off-mountain activities that are different to any other resort town in New Zealand. Discover adrenalin sports like jet boating, white water rafting, bungy jumping and sky diving, as well as scenic lake and sunset cruises, sailing trips and kayaking adventures on Lake Taupō. You’ll find multiple geothermal hot pools throughout the region, and mountain biking and golf are popular winter activities. The many walking tracks in the area will take you on a journey to discover the stunning landscape, mountain views and native forests that surround the lake.