Nourished by the elements, it’s easy to tune in to nature’s radio here - the ever-flowing rivers to skip stones or dangle a line, surrounded by majestic mountains and spectacular waterfalls inviting you to seek, explore and adventure. From horse treks to climbing walls and a journey into the clouds on a Sky Waka, Ruapehu is a family friendly holiday destination that delivers unforgettable fun all-year round.
DAY ONE: OHAKUNE LOVE
Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park
The iconic Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park is a must-do when in Ruapehu. Frolic and play surrounded by larger than life veggies, race cars, and climbing frames. Located just outside the entrance to Ohakune, you’ll find picnic tables, a BMX track, bush walks, plenty of parking and modern toilet facilities. The exercise station is a great addition for mums and dads wanting to get in some fitness too!
Walk or bike along the Mangawhero River
Walk or bike along the Mangawhero River Popular with locals and visitors alike, the Mangawhero River Walkway is a scenic well-maintained track located along Mangawhero Terrace in Ohakune. The open, grassy areas are perfect for picnics with plenty of shade around (dog-friendly too) with a picturesque swing bridge to boot. For a longer walk, head up towards Ohakune Mountain Road and enjoy the full 1 hr, 3km Mangawhero Forest loop with an option to explore the gentle Rimu Walk. This side-track is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs and offers a beautiful introduction to the forest’s journey from beautiful information panels provided.
For beginners to more experienced riders, Ruapehu Homestead Horse Treks lets you experience the greater outdoors against the snow-capped mountains of Mount Ruapehu. Ranging from one hour to three-hour trails, the friendly team can guide all abilities to introduce you to basic care and safety hints before embarking on a ride through the historic village of Rangataua, local mountain streams or backcountry trails.
DAY TWO: ACTIVE ADVENTURES AT NATIONAL PARK
Indoor Rock Climbing
Not just for rainy days, the indoor climbing wall at YHA National Park is a great family activity to give a go. With 55 different climbs in the 8 metres high climbing hall, there is a climb to suit beginners to more advanced climbers, ranging from grades 10 to 26. All gear is included with entry as well as full instruction and safety briefing. Open daily from 9 am to 8 pm, this hands-on adventure provides hours of entertainment for kids as well parents too!
Quad and buggy adventures
Get your adrenaline pumping on an action-packed quad bike adventure with Ruapehu Adventure Rides. Set amidst wide-open spaces and surrounded by Tongariro National Park, experience the excitement of a guided quad bike tour over hills, through forests and across waterways led by an experienced guide. For those under sixteen years of age, enjoy an all-terrain, all weather, buggy ride for some awesome off-road fun. Safety gear and briefing provided to get amongst it.
Tawhai Falls, also known as Gollum’s Pool, was used as a filming location for the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy. Just a 5 minutes’ drive from the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre, this short walk-through beautiful mountain toatoa and beech forest leads you to an enchanting 13-metre-high waterfall and giant boulders - perfect for a pit stop or picnic.
DAY THREE: RAETIHI AND BEYOND
Bird spotting and fairy hunting at Makotuku River
In the heart of Raetihi is a scenic 4km walkway along the Makotuku River that everyone in the family will enjoy. Filled with birdsong, fairy houses and beautiful native bush, wind through this easy going, relatively flat track to nourish the body and soul with a bit of forest bathing and the soothing sounds of trickling streams surrounding you.
The Dinosaur House
Quirky and fun, the Dinosaur House in Raetihi is always a hit with families– where big kids as well as little kids are transported to a land before our time, back to when dinosaurs ruled. Set in an old, two-storey office building, this incredible collection of dinosaur paraphernalia includes larger than life animatronic dinosaurs, movie memorabilia and retro video games. Pop out in the gardens for a walk in the wild side and make sure to chat with the friendly and super knowledgeable owners who sure know a thing or two about dinosaurs.
If you want to take the kids to new heights, take a journey into the clouds on the Sky Waka - New Zealand’s most unique gondola ride within the UNESCO dual world heritage Tongariro National Park. With floor-to-ceiling views on this state-of-the-art, glass-bottom gondola, experience the magic of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngāuruhoe and Mt Tongariro like never before.