Wāhine Toa

From majestic mountains to sacred rivers, the living landscape of Ruapehu is home to many wāhine toa proud to call this place home - where the natural environment is a life force to respect, care for and preserve for generations to come. Meet some of Ruapehu’s local champions and tourism operators inviting visitors to connect deeper and discover authentic adventures here like no other.

Operator Profile: 

Sheryl SimpsonRua Awa Lodge, Kakahi.

Ngāti Tūwharetoa.

Sheryl Simpsom Rua Awa Lodge Kakahi Ruapehu - Visit Ruapehu.png

Sheryl owner and operator of Rua Awa Lodge

Yoga at Rua Awa Lodge with Sheryl - Visit Ruapehu.png

Yoga at Rua Awa Lodge

Who I Am:  

I’m a former ultra-distance, multi day adventurer, triathlete, and yoga teacher. I live in Kakahi my tūrangawaewae. 

What I Love About My Community:  

The connectivity, support, friendly chats and waves, pace of life and everyday beauty in the Ruapehu District. 


What We Do and Services We Offer Our Guests:  

My husband Warren and I own and run Rua Awa Lodge, relax, and reconnect is our mantra! You can do as much or as little as you like, we provide homegrown and homemade breakfast provisions, you can order delicious food from our farm kitchen for a true garden-to-plate experience. If you are interested in food-based workshops, we offer many and can also lead Yoga & stretch sessions for guests, the lodge has a spacious Yoga studio. With direct access to the Whanganui and Whakapapa Rivers, fishing, swimming, and walking are all available from our doorstep. We are part of Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s sustainability commitment, and imbue the Tiaki Promise to care for people, place, and culture. 


My Vision for Our Place:  

To offer our guests an opportunity to experience a slice of New Zealand rural life, in a small village environment. With beautiful accommodation and surroundings that encourage deep breaths, slow travel, and a sense of wonder. 


Top Recommendations for Adventure Seekers In Ruapehu:  


  •  Spend some time on the Whanganui River for the journey of a lifetime - a completely immersive and must-do experience. Owhango Adventures offer a cultural guided journey down the Whanganui River with local Māori guides who offer a unique perspective, cultural insight, and history.  

  • Cycle or hike the Timber Trail, the options are endless, immerse yourself for a few days for a truly outstanding experience. 

  • Tongariro Adrift offers a guided hike on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter amidst a magnificent snow-covered landscape. Everything is supplied if you need it, so go for it! You'll be talking about it forever. 

  • Ohinetonga Reserve is my absolute favourite. The diversity of the track is what keeps me coming back weekly, it's very well maintained by a dedicated group of locals (Owhango Alive) with swimming and picnic spots along the way. Excellent views of the Whakapapa River and a boardwalk crosses Ohinetonga Lagoon. Easily accessed with amenities. 

  • The Te Maire Loop Track is a lesser-known walk through a podocarp forest, good diversity in terrain and scenery, lots of birdlife with a creek crossing to boot, and a bit on the wilder side. 

Operator Profile:  

Rebecca Mead, Whanganui River Canoes, Raetihi Holiday Park, and Mountain Bike Station, Raetihi.

Ngāti Raukawa.

Rebecca Mead Raetihi Holiday Park and Mountain Bike Station Ruapehu - Visit Ruapehu.png

Rebecca owner and operator of Whanganui River Canoes, Raetihi Holiday Park, and Mountain Bike Station

Mountain bikers at the begninning of the Ohakune Old Coach Road.png

Bikers at the beginning of the Ohakune Old Coach Road

Who I Am: 

Kia ora, I am Rebecca. My partner Ben and I own and operate our family businesses in Ruapehu. Operating Raetihi Holiday Park, Whanganui River Canoes, and Mountain Bike Station we meet manuhiri from all over New Zealand and around the world. We love raising our 3 kids in such a small, remote, close-knit community, with plenty of opportunity for adventure around the corner.  


Top Recommendations for Adventure Seekers in Ruapehu:  

When holidaying in Ruapehu there really is something for everyone. Our small holiday park is a lovely spot for adventurers to use as a base.  


What I Love About My Community:  

The last few years have been especially difficult, but all the hospitality and tourism operators in Ruapehu want each other to succeed, so it is always good to catch up with each other and see how we can help each other out. Our community has so many vibrant young rangatahi, with so many stories to tell, I can't wait to see our industry grow even stronger. 


My Favourite Childhood Memory: 

I grew up in Aramoho Whanganui, overlooking the ever-changing Whanganui River. Most of my treasured childhood memories are with my three brothers on the banks of the Whanganui River. My oldest brother passed away when he was 17 and I was 14, and although we spent our early years paddling, swimming, and exploring the lower reaches of the river, he never got to see the beauty of the upper reaches we live on today. Each time I paddle, jet boat, or stay on the awa with my children, I imagine my brother is with us. 

Operator Profile:  

Lynley Twyman, Trail Champion of Ngā Ara Tuhono - Mountains to sea and the Timber Trail New Zealand cycle trails.

Ngāti Pakeha from Tairāwhiti.


Lynley Twyman Trail Champion.png

Lynley the Ruapehu trail champion

Fishers Track Wāhine Toa blog.png

Cyclist at the famous horse shoe statue found on Fishers Track

Tell us about what you do and your favourite thing about your job. 

As the Trail Champion, my role is all things advocating for, promoting, and delivering our incredible trails here through the Ruapehu District (along with Waitomo and Whanganui).  On any given day it can range from working with our trail building and maintenance teams to ensure the trails are built and are in tip-top condition, sharing the love of the trail with potential customers, to working on the next steps in our strategy to be the Number One destination for Great Rides in NZ (and beyond).  We are a partnership involving a range of stakeholders from district councils, DOC, iwi, operators, and the communities – so its very busy ensuring we are all pedalling towards delivering the same vision. 

The best thing is riding our trails with customers and seeing the joy and sense of achievement when they have experienced the wonders and emotions gathered throughout the journeys. 

How many kms of cycle trails are in the Ruapehu region? 

Mountains to Sea – Ngā Ara Tūhono and the Timber Trail are the two Great Rides you can enjoy in Ruapehu. Across the two Great Rides and key trails (excluding the Heartland Rides) there is 473 km of fabulous riding once we are all constructed. On top of that are our MTB parks, some smaller rides, and incredible gravel riding on the Heartland Rides and beyond.

Are there any hidden gems you’d recommend riding?

That’s a tough one – I love each section, all with their own personalityThere is something special about riding to the top of Pureora and taking a break to see the incredible views from the top, then there are the bush tramway relics and spectacular views from Marton Sash and Door, or the incredible horseshoe status at Kaitieke, the pickup point for shuttles on Fishers TrackOf course, you can’t beat the thrill of finishing with a jetboat ride down the awa after completing the Mangapurua (either via Kaiwhakuka or Ruatiti)Any day is a great day on a bike…so no matter where you ride, you’ll be sure to experience that “tramping on wheels” sense of satisfaction. 

Is there anything new or exciting happening in terms of cycle trails in Ruapehu?

Two exciting new sections are underway to get amongst in Ruapehu: 

  • Te Ara Mangawhero – a descending trail that will eventually guide you through the southern slopes of Tongariro National Park from Tūroa to OhakuneA partnership with Ngāti Rangi, this spectacular trail takes you from the rocky alpine slopes through rich native bush to connect with the Ohakune Old Coach Road (and the town with all its hospitality and treats) 

  • Te Hangāruru will connect riders eventually National Park Village in the Waimarino, via the significant Last Spike (where the last “spike” was put in the North Island Main Trunk rail line)At this point the trail will connect to Pōkākā ecosanctuary being curated by Uenuku, and then across the Makatote river with what is expected to be a 200m long suspension bridge. 

Interested in booking a holiday to Ruapehu? Head here for more information.

Share your love for Ruapehu #RuapehuNZ

Posted by on 20 February 2024