Whaka­papa

A moun­tain of fun open all year round.

Adventure - - Contents -

Fa­mil­iar to most as New Zealand’s largest ski area, Whaka­papa has a world of un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ences to of­fer to alpine-lovers all year round. Home to New Zealand’s high­est cafe, amaz­ing vol­canic walks and Mt Ruapehu’s Crater Lake Hike; Whaka­papa Alpine Any­time of­fers an un­par­al­leled ex­pe­ri­ence of the dual world her­itage sta­tus Ton­gariro Na­tional Park.

As the warmer weather brings us into sum­mer, Mt Ruapehu’s white coat re­cedes to re­veal the rugged alpine land­scape of the mag­nif­i­cent moun­tain, an ac­tive vol­cano that is the high­est point in the North Is­land. The vol­canic rocks glow a mag­nif­i­cent orange in the sun­light. Vir­tu­ally un­recog­nis­able to snow-lovers, each ridge, val­ley and gul­ley shows off thou­sands of years of his­toric lava flows, la­har paths and vol­canic ac­tiv­ity. The raw beauty of a World Her­itage Na­tional Park and the alpine ter­rain of the North Is­land’s high­est peak make for one of the coun­try’s most ad­ven­tur­ous play­grounds. Wild as it may sound; Mt Ruapehu is eas­ily vis­ited and is a safe and spec­tac­u­lar way to be­come ac­quainted with the vol­ca­noes of Ton­gariro Na­tional Park.

What bet­ter way to take in the sights of the Ton­gariro Na­tional Park than from the deck of the ar­chi­tec­turally award-win­ning Knoll Ridge Café. At 2,020 me­tres above sea level it’s the high­est cafe in New Zealand with views you never imag­ined pos­si­ble - that is un­til you see it! The gi­ant north fac­ing glass face of the cafe boasts the most spec­tac­u­lar view of the Pin­na­cles, which are ge­o­log­i­cally the old­est part of the moun­tain. This spec­tac­u­larly sharp ridge be­lies the re­al­ity of Ruapehu’s vol­canic ori­gins.

For those of us that aren’t sold on the idea of hiking up to 2,020 me­tres above sea level, there is a fan­tas­tic scenic chair­lift ride op­tion to trans­port you to the top. Put your feet up on the brand new Ran­gatira Ex­press chair­lift fol­lowed by the Wa­ter­fall Ex­press chair­lift and en­joy the ride over an­cient lava flows and rugged vol­canic ter­rain. Take in the scenic wonders of the vol­canic land­scape, Mt Ngau­ruhoe and Mt Ton­gariro to the east and, on a stun­ning clear day, Mt Taranaki to the west.

A cul­tural gem, the rich his­tory of Mt Ruapehu is best ex­plored on a jour­ney to the top – to Mt Ruapehu’s Crater Lake. The un­formed route up Ruapehu to the crater is not marked, and is in high al­ti­tude ter­rain - the crater lake look­out point is at 2672 m. Vis­it­ing the Crater Lake will be one of the most mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences you’ll ever have and we rec­om­mend go­ing with a guide. A safety and moun­taineer­ing guide with Ngati Hikairo cul­tural knowl­edge will guide you up the moun­tain, share sto­ries and point out cul­tural point of in­ter­est along the way. Of­ten over­looked in pref­er­ence to the Ton­gariro Cross­ing, it’s been de­scribed as the best one day walk in New Zealand. Guided Crater Lake walks are led at an easy pace, so there’s plenty of time for rest breaks and in­for­ma­tive talks.

For the early part of sum­mer you can even play in the snow! Snow play is only avail­able for a lim­ited time as snow con­di­tions al­low. Make sure you call ahead to avoid any dis­ap­point­ment.

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