Imagine gliding in air-conditioned comfort to the upper slopes of Mt Ruapehu - in just a few minutes, any time of the year.

You can with the Sky Waka gondola at the Whakapapa resort on Mt Ruapehu.

The $25 million gondola opened in July 2019 and is the longest in New Zealand travelling 1.8 km up the northern slopes of Mt Ruapehu from the base of the Whakapapa ski field to the Knoll Ridge Chalet.

With 50 cabins, the Sky Waka can transport 2,400 people an hour across Mt Ruapehu's rugged volcanic landscape. Along the way, passengers can enjoy spectacular views through floor-to-ceiling windows of steep valleys, snow-capped peaks in winter, waterfalls and even neighbouring volcanoes, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.

Each cabin accommodates 10 passengers comfortably with ease and features internal ski racks and leather seats.

For skiers and snowboarders, the Sky Waka provides fast and easy access to upper slopes of the ski area including the Delta and West Ridge chair lifts, and the Valley, Knoll Ridge and Far West T-Bars.

The gondola is also open year-round for sightseeing trips making the upper mountain accessible to a wider range of visitors than ever before.

Once at the top, you can enjoy breath-taking views of Mt Ruapehu's awe-inspiring Pinnacles Ridge, the valley below and across the central North Island from the Knoll Ridge Chalet - New Zealand's highest eatery at 2020m above sea level.

The Knoll Ridge Chalet boasts a range of dining options. The upscale Pinnacles (Ngā Tohu) Restaurant serves buffet lunches in summer , while Pātaka (The Larder) offers barista coffee and an à la carte menu of café style cuisine.

The Four Peaks Alley meanwhile has a selection of foodtruck-style grab-and-go meals, located in the downstairs area of the Chalet.

The Sky Waka and Knoll Ridge Chalet are now open all-year round. For more information visit: