Tongariro Crossing Lodge is perfectly located for a range of winter adventures. Not only are we close to TWO excellent ski areas, at 820m (2690ft) above sea level, we are rarely snowed in. That means we get all the benefits of having snowy mountains on our doorstep without the drawbacks, such as shovelling snow every morning!
Here are some of the fun snow adventures you can enjoy when you stay with us in winter and early-spring:
Ski or snowboard on an active volcano
Mt Ruapehu is home to the two largest ski areas in New Zealand - Whakapapa and Tūroa - and we're close to them both. In addition to the thrill of riding on an active volcano, the great thing about coming to Ruapehu is that you can visit both ski areas with a single pass.
The Whakapapa ski area is New Zealand's largest ski area and just a 20 minute drive or 30 minute bus journey away from the lodge.
Whakapapa boasts New Zealand's premiere beginners' area, Happy Valley with its own cafe, rental complex and ski school meeting area. The gentle slope is nice and long, giving you plenty of time to get the hang of your new sport.
Whakapapa is also home to New Zealand's newest gondola, the Sky Waka, which opened in July 2019 and offers access to the upper slopes of Mt Ruapehu for some of the best runs in the country including 30 intermediate groomed trails and 24 black and black diamond runs.
It also provides access to New Zealand's highest eatery - the Knoll Ridge Chalet at 2020m above sea level with sightseeing passes available for those not skiing or boarding.
Tūroa is located on the south western slopes of Mt Ruapehu and is a 45 minutes drive from our lodge. Tūroa features the longest vertical drop in the country at 722m and the High Noon Express which travels to the highest lifted point in New Zealand offering panoramic views of the North Island. On offer are two beginners areas, wide trails with plenty of gullies and drops, and world-class terrain parks. Tūroa also has a number of cafes both at the base and higher up on the slopes.
Public transport shuttles operate daily from our village to the Whakapapa ski area. Costs for the 2019 season are $20/person return, while kids 5 and under travel free. Click here for the schedule. We can also arrange a door-to-door shuttle service directly from the lodge from $35 for adults and $10 for children return.
Ride the Sky Waka
The brand-new Sky Waka gondola at the Whakapapa ski area is the best way to reach the upper slopes of Mt Raupehu. It travels 1.8 km in just five minutes through one of the North Island’s most rugged and spectacular volcanic landscapes to New Zealand's highest dining complex - the Knoll Ridge Chalet at 2020m above sea level. Here you can take in breathtaking views of the three mountains of Tongariro National Park: Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, while having a drink or a bite to eat from a range of eateries, including the Pinnacles Restaurant, which offers a buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner, or afternoon tea.
2019 season pricing for return sightseeing gondola rides are $49 for adults and $29 for those between 5 and 17.
Experience the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in true alpine splendour
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter is truly an otherworldly experience. With most of the landscape covered in snow and ice, and with none of the summer crowds, you can soak in the full magnificence of this Dual World Heritage Area in unique tranquillity. But it's best done as part of a guided trip - unless you have winter alpine hiking experience and the right gear.
Our very competitive winter Tongariro Alpine Crossing package offers everything you need to complete the hike safely in winter. Check it out here, or read our very own Marina van Wyk's account of her winter Crossing experience here.
Fun things to do in winter - out of the snow!
For those who are not into skiing or snowboarding, there are plenty of other fun activities to enjoy around Ruapehu in winter.
Options range from quad bike riding to whitewater rafting to a round of mini-golf, or just relaxing over warm meal or cold drink.
Click here for some of our favourite activities to enjoy around Ruapehu out of the snow.