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Whakapapa Ski Area

Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand

Located on Mt Ruapehu’s north-western slopes in the heart of the North Island, Whakapapa is New Zealand’s largest ski area. It is also home to the nation’s premier beginners’ playground: Happy Valley.

Happy Valley is renowned for its expansive volcanic terrain, spectacular views of the Tongariro National Park, extensive beginner facilities and vibrant night skiing. The huge variety of terrain provides mellow slopes for first-timers, and epic chutes, drops and bumps for the most experienced.

Residing in a dual World Heritage site, the local residents and iwi hold a strong connection to Whakapapa and we’re sure you will too. Whether it’s a big day or a big night, a trip to Whakapapa Ski Area is a must-do!

Whakapapa is also open in summer for dining, sightseeing, short walks and sledding.


Whether you’re a first-timer, seasoned skier or snowboarder, or simply here to play in some snow, there’s a variety of on- and off-mountain activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Skiable area

550 hectares




Terrain parks




Minimum age for ski lessons


Minimum age for snowboard lessons

Supervised kids packages available for four to 12 years

Grading of runs

Beginner: 25%
Intermediate: 50%
Advanced: 25%

2300 meters

Summit height

Length of season

to October

4.5 meters

Average snowfall

6km away from mountain

On-mountain family activities

Sledding area in Happy Valley with its own designated carpet lift

Great progression up the mountain – Happy Valley to Whakapapa

NZ’s highest and world’s best designed café, Knoll Ridge

Ski and ride school

Happy Valley Beginner Area

Off-mountain family activities

White water rafting

Jet boating

Sky diving

Trout fishing

Mountain biking

Lake cruises

Geothermal parks

Hot pools

Prawn Park

Summer activities

Whakapapa remains open during summer (November to April)

Dining at NZ’s highest café, Knoll Ridge


Summer sledding in real snow

Self guided short walks


What better way to spend five days of the school holidays than having an amazing adventure up on the mountain at Whakapapa Ski Area? This is the perfect option if you’re planning on being here for the full week with groups for beginners right up to intermediate and advanced skiers.

Learn new skills with experienced kids' instructors, meet new friends and have an awesome time on the snow. Enjoy the benefits of being with the same group and same instructor throughout the programme.

All ski and ride school programmes also enjoy lift line priority. Get the kids organised for the day with an all-day package, which includes everything they need including a healthy, supervised lunch.



If you're looking for accommodation that is conveniently situated near Mt Ruapehu, click here. There are a multitude of local operators that offer family-friendly lodging, with breathtaking views of the wintry mountain. Stroll along the Mangawhero River, which runs serenely as a border for many lodge surroundings. Or, if you're looking for a place to relax after a long, hard day on the slopes, enjoy the recreational spaces, including hot tubs and lounge areas, that many of these fine establishments offer.


Whakapapa has three family-friendly cafés conveniently located slope-side.

Knoll Ridge Café

The Knoll Ridge Café is a modern 400-seat café boasting incredible 180 degree views, a stunning selection of food and fantastic barista-made coffee, all delivered by a truly international team. Situated at 2020m above sea level, there is no experience like it in New Zealand. Named World’s Best Designed Café in 2015 by Design Curial.

Lorenz’s Bar & Café

Lorenz's Bar & Café is situated in Whakapapa's base area; whether you’re after breakfast, lunch or afternoon refuelling at the end of a hard day's riding, there is something here for everyone to enjoy. Open for Night Skiing on Friday and Saturdays, as well as NZ July School Holidays.

Happy Valley Bistro

Situated in the Happy Valley beginner’s area, the Happy Valley Bistro offers casual grab-and-go style food for the busy beginner snow enthusiast. A relaxed, friendly space for families to enjoy our homemade pizzas, tasty Roti rolls and fresh sandwiches.



Nearest city:
Ohakune - 57km

Nearest airport:
Taupo - 100km

Distance from village to mountain:

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Phone: +64 892 4000


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