Getaway to Ohakune . . . | The Bucket List
Just 135 km from Taupō lies the central plateau’s charming little mountain town of Ohakune – a place to adventure, feast and gaze upon stunning surrounds. Based at the foot of Mt Ruapehu’s ski areas, Ohakune boasts wilderness fishing at its finest, mountain exploration aplenty and seasonal entertainment opportunities to carry you right throughout the year. There’s no doubt though that winter is one of the best seasons to get your Ohakune groove on.
To give you an idea of the magic there is to experience, we’ve highlighted the best things to do in this wee region. So, grab your mates together, pack your warmest wearables and brace yourselves for some adventure.
Mountain bike down Old Coach Road
This fascinating trail is part of New Zealand’s oldest railway history; rich in natural and cultural heritage, and an increasingly popular half-day adventure offering a mix of lush forestry, volcanic scenery and historical sites. We recommend you start your ride at TCB Ski Board & Bike where they will fit you with a bike and the right equipment, then take you on a shuttle to the Horopito end of the trail. From there it’s an enjoyable downhill ride, taking roughly
two-to-three hours, with a distance of approximately 15 km (17 km if you take the Mangawhero River Walkway back to TCB). Because it’s an easy grade two level trail, with varying terrain and moderate hill climbs, it’s family-friendly and suitable for most abilities. If you’re after a little more challenge, carry on to the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail – a more complex but exciting ride.
If you need equipment, head to TCB Ski Board & Bike for full-service rentals (and a shop if you’re keen to buy), plus check out their Old Coach Road self-guided tours. You’ll find high quality bikes, ebikes, snow equipment, clothing and accessories – everything you need for the best experience in the region.
“At TCB Ski Board & Bike, all our bikes are cleaned, tuned and checked after every hire so you can have the best ride on our great trails.” – Ben, TCB Ski, Board & Bike.
Explore the Whanganui River
Spanning 290 km, the Whanganui River is New Zealand’s longest navigable river – and delivers a full spectrum of activities to engage with. The river starts out from the slopes of Mount Tongariro, and flows through Taumarunui, then through the King Country’s farming hills and into the forests of the Whanganui National Park.
Daily shuttles depart from Ohakune to Taumarunui, Whakahoro and Pipiriki, for popular canoeing and kayaking trips. The 145 km journey from Taumarunui to Pipiriki takes an average of five days to complete by canoe, a shorter three-day journey from Whakahoro to Pipiriki (87 km) is the more popular option, and features the most scenic stretches of the river.
Bush walk to the Waitonga Falls
It’s no secret that New Zealanders love their hikes, and Ohakune is home to some best walks and combines some of the best sights, from waterfalls, to clifftops, to volcanoes.
One of the must-do walks in Ohakune is the Waitonga Falls Track – Tongariro National Park’s highest waterfall at 39 metres. Surrounded by native bush and kaikawaka (mountain cedar) forest, the track features amazing views of Mount Ruapehu and the neighbouring countryside.
“For us, Ohakune has it all! Beautiful dining options, stunning walks and scenery . . . the perfect place for a weekend getaway.” – Jo, Taupō.
Hit the slopes
Obviously, Ohakune’s snow season is not to be missed. With Whakapapa and Turoa just a stone’s throw from the town, this is where skiers and snowboarders come to play. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a snow whizz, there’s an experience for every skill level.
Turoa boasts Australasia’s longest continuous run, with 500 hectares of groomed trails and a network of
five lifts – including the ‘High Noon Express’. Whakapapa, on the other hand, features New Zealand’s largest ski field with 65 trails, and includes plenty of exciting natural features which deliver an additional challenge.
Loving wining and dining? So does Ohakune. After you’ve tackled the slopes, peddled bike trails or traversed the river, it’s probably time for a bite. We highly recommend Osteria – with its traditional Italian flavours, superb hospitality and delicious pasta, it’s a win-win all-round.
Also top of the list is The Powderhorn Chateau. Unwind in the waters of its heated indoor pool and satisfy the appetite at the Powderkeg restaurant. Located at the start of Old Coach Road, the Powderhorn is ‘the place’ to experience New Zealand après ski.
“There are so many hidden gem hikes and bikes to be discovered in the region, I have lived here for over ten years and I am still discovering the beauty this area has. There is something for everyone and every price range. If you are not into the outdoors, the Dinosaur House is awesome for families, and there is always Powderhorn’s heated swimming pool, hot roaring fires and mulled wine for the perfect cosy winter night.” – Antika, Powderhorn Chateau.
Work towards zero waste while having fun
Ethical Waste is Ohakune’s social and environmental business that is working to reach its target of ‘Zero Waste by 2040’. This unique
second-hand store has transformed the old school transfer station into a Resource Recovery Centre. You never know what you will find or which items will take you back down memory lane.
The second-hand store is a great way to give the family something different to do, especially on rainy days when the mountain is closed or when the fingers are too cold to ride bikes.
“There’s so much to do here, check out the snow activities, bike around the streets or head off road, take up the challenge of indoor rock climbing, participate in some bird watching – we have some rare native birds in our company, and of course take a walk down memory lane to the recycling centre second-hand store.” – Sam, Ethical Waste.