1. Mini golf at Schnapps
Mini golf with some of the best views in the world, Schnapps’ iconic 18-hole mini golf course guarantees great fun for all ages. Located in National Park Village, you can enjoy mini golf at Schnapps seven days a week as well as their fantastic food and beverages. A popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike, Schnapps is a great spot to get together for a meal and mini golf, before or after exploring the world-class cycle and walking tracks nearby. Pre-schoolers play from $2.50, kids $6 and adults $11.
2. Dinosaur House An extraordinary museum that will transport you to a time when dinosaurs once roamed the Earth, full of mystery and fascination, the Dinosaur House is a hidden gem in the small town of Raetihi. Home to the largest collection of privately owned dinosaur skeletons, fossils and life-sized models in New Zealand, the Dinosaur House is nestled inside a beautiful heritage building along the main street with fantastic shops and cafes nearby. Children under 2 are free, ages 3-15 are only $10 and adults $12.
3. Indoor rock climbing
When you want to climb mountains but may need to start indoors, you can take your pick from two excellent indoor rock-climbing facilities in Ruapehu. Vertigo climbing in Ohakune offers 20 uniquely themed Clip n Climb climbing challenges for ages 4 and up. Further down the road along the Adventure Highway, the National Park Backpackers indoor climbing hall offers beginner to advance levels with 29 top ropes and an 8-metre-high climbing wall. These all-weather attractions deliver active fun for everyone with prices starting from $10/hour for kids.
4. Ohakune Disc Golf
Discover hands on, high-flying fun at Ohakune Disc Golf – an inclusive sport that’s easy for anyone to learn and enjoy. Also known as frisbee golf and played with rules similar to traditional golf, this riverside, 9-hole course located on Mangawhero Terrace Domain is open day and night (or until the solar lights go out) and probably deliver the most epic mountain views of any disc golf course in the world. Costs range from $15-$20 a day for rentals.
5. Horopito Motors
The legendary Horopito Motor Wreckers, also known as Smash Palace, is the only vintage car dismantlers in Australasia. This active museum, where what you see on display can be bought or sold, has featured in several New Zealand films including Goodbye Pork Pie, Smash Palace, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The Horopito Coffee Cart located on-site is perfect for a cuppa – particularly for those cycling the stunning Ohakune Old Coach Road, part of the incredible network of Mountains to Sea Ngā Ara Tūhono Cycle Trails. A family run business, this hidden gem is an authentic, one-of-a-kind experience you can enjoy for a mere gold coin donation.
6. Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park
Also known as Carrotland, the Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park is a quirky, cool attraction for the young and young at heart in the carrot capital of New Zealand where two-thirds of the country’s carrots are grown. You’ll come face to face with larger-than-life vegetables at this beloved community initiative, also home to a 7.5 metre-tall giant carrot – voted as NZ’s 2023 Landmark of the Year. Frolic and get amongst it as you wind your way through refreshing mountain streams, native bush, picnic areas, biking and walking tracks, a designated fitness area with gym equipment, a challenging obstacle course, a 50-metre-long double flying fox and the world’s biggest Carrot Rocket, free for all to enjoy, every day of the year.
7. Chocolate éclairs from Johnny Nation’s Chocolate Éclair Shop
World-famous and decadence in every bite, Johnny Nation’s chocolate eclairs are a must-eat when in Ohakune. Established in 1939, Johnny Nation’s is a family business that entices out of towners to keep coming back for more of these tantalising treats. Made daily with fresh cream and the best ingredients, these eclairs are baked with love and big enough to share with someone special. Now available year-round from downtown Ohakune for $4 each scrumptious éclair.
8. National Army Museum Te Mata Toa
Open daily and conveniently located along State Highway 1 in Waiouru, you can’t miss the action at the National Army Museum Te Mata Toa. With an eye-catching display of army tanks outside and world-class exhibitions inside, this is a must-do attraction in Ruapehu. A 1 hr premium guided tour is only $19/adult and $9/child which includes your entry fee to this incredible museum showcasing the unique and extensive collections of New Zealand military heritage and history.
9. Stargazing from anywhere With two national parks side by side, Tongariro National Park to the east and Whanganui National Park to the west, Ruapehu is a natural wonderland full of wide-open spaces, cosy mountain towns, and small alpine villages. With minimal light pollution and the only New Zealand Dark Sky Area in the Central North Island in Raetihi, there are plenty of starry nights and dark skies to enjoy from wherever you are in Ruapehu – where the best things in life are free!
10. Nevalea Alpacas
A visit to New Zealand’s largest alpaca farm is an off the beaten track adventure that will take you enchant you with over 1,100 adorable, award-winning alpacas. Not too camera shy, there are plenty of photogenic alpacas to walk, feed, and even picnic with if you wish at Nevalea Alpacas – located in Taumarunui along State Highway 4. Open daily, year-round, alpaca encounters start from $20/child.
11. Chasing waterfalls
From the impressive Taranaki Falls accessible from Whakapapa Village to Lord of the Rings featured Tawhai Falls (aka Gollum’s Pool) and Ohakune’s Waitonga Falls – the highest waterfalls in Tongariro National Park as it cascades down 39 m, there are spectacular waterfalls easily accessible year-round on well-formed tracks. Breathe in that fresh mountain air, take in the unique alpine environment, and immerse yourself in the enchanting wonderland and natural treasures of Ruapehu. Free and fantastic for all to enjoy.
12. Ohakune Railway Museum
Not just for rail buffs and train enthusiasts, the Ohakune Railway Museum offers a fascinating look at the rich rail history in the Ruapehu region. Operated by the Main Trunk Rail Ohakune Group and run by passionate volunteers, the elaborate, high-quality exhibits showcase the day-to-day operations of railways in New Zealand from 1900 to the 1950’s. Open from Thursday-Sunday from 10 am – 2 pm, or by arrangement, entrance is free but koha (donations) are warmly welcome.
13. Two-wheel cycling fun
With over 500 km of cycle trails to ride in Ruapehu, cycling holidays are a great way to explore Ruapehu. Pedal powered fun is accessible here with a range of bike hire shops, shuttles operators, and transfer providers across the region. From BMX bike and pump tracks to a range of cycle trails starting from grade 2 and above, you can enjoy two New Zealand Great Rides in Ruapehu including the Timber Trail and the Mountains to Sea Ngā Ara Tūhono Connected Pathways. Kids mountain bike hires are available from $20 for half a day.
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