Snow Experiences Now Available for Everyone!

Snow Experiences Now Available for Everyone!

The new $25 million Sky Waka gondola at Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu is set to be a game changer for tourism in the Central North Island.

The 50 Sky Waka gondola cabins will feature floor-to-ceiling glass for breathtaking views, internal ski racks, audio and lighting and individual leather seats offering business class luxury to passengers befitting of the UNESCO Dual World Heritage status of Whakapapa Ski Area.

Each cabin accommodates 10 passengers and even the tallest skiers will be able to stand upright in the cabin with more than two metres of internal clearance. The Sky Waka will run from the Top of the Bruce base area directly to the award-winning, newly refurbished Knoll Ridge Chalet, transporting 2,400 people per hour – over 1.8 km – in approximately five minutes.

The Sky Waka will be open 365 days of the year and open a range of alpine experiences for all ages – it will be wheelchair accessible too.

Dinner with a view

Once at the top, you’ll have the option of three eating establishments to choose from, including the new Pinnacles Restaurant which will offer a delicious buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant provides the best view of the Pinnacles Range and in winter, you’ll get a great view of the skiers and snowboarders as they slide past too.

You’ll also be able to combine your gondola ticket with a dining option, and for the more adventurous, there are two glass floor cabins, providing 360-degree views of the volcanic landscape!

Alongside Pinnacles, The Larder will offer quick and healthy meal options and 4 Peaks Alley will be located in the brand-new downstairs area of the Knoll Ridge Chalet. Naturally, great coffee and cold beverages will always be available for those just wanting to relax on the outdoor deck and soak in the stunning landscape.

Throughout the winter months, there will also be a sledding zone on the upper mountain which is an ideal activity for those who are non-skiers.

Most years, there is snow at the top of the gondola until Christmas, so this is an ideal way for those who have never seen or touched snow before to access it very easily.

Mid-Winter Feast at the Snow

One of the first events planned for the Sky Waka and Pinnacles Restaurant is the ‘Mid-Winter Feast at the Snow’ – part of the annual Taupō Winter Festival – held July 10th. Tickets are available from the Mt Ruapehu Snow HQ on Roberts Street in Taupō or by emailing Tickets start at $89 and return transport can be arranged from Taupō. It’s a night that promises great food and fun to celebrate winter in our region and what better place to do that than in the snow!

Private events, Christmas functions and even weddings can now be catered for at Whakapapa with the Sky Waka providing great reliability in inclement weather. Christmas functions will be popular so get in early to book your team in as space is limited. For more information, email

For the skiers, Happy Valley will open on June 1 in time for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. June is an ideal month to learn to ski as the slopes are uncrowded and you’ll be up and running before the upper mountain opens later in the month.

Sky Waka is due to open in June, keep an eye on the website for further details.

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