"Sky Waka" - new gondola
In 2019, the new 10-passenger gondola "Sky Waka" by Leitner Ropeways was opened for 15 million euros. At 1.8 kilometers in length, it is the longest gondola in New Zealand. It leads to New Zealand's highest restaurant at 2020 meters (Knoll Ridge Café). This will allow 2600 people to be transported per hour. The 49 cabins are equipped with panoramic windows, leather seats and an audio system. Since the mountain is still an active volcano, located in the middle of a national park and owned by a Maori tribe, the construction of the new gondola was a major logistical challenge.
The Ski Resort
Whakapapa is New Zealand's largest ski resort. It is located on Mt Ruapehu (2,797m), the highest mountain on the North Island. The active volcano is also home to Turoa, another, smaller ski resort. Whakapapa has suitable runs for every level, although the majority is intended for more advanced skiers and snowboarders.
New Zealand's first seperate beginner's area, Happy Valley, is one of Whakapapa's special features. In this area, newbies get to practice their first steps among themselves, without getting in the way of swifter skiers. The long practice slope gives them the chance to get acquainted with skiing at their own pace. Getting to the top on an extra slow chairlift makes it easy to get accustomed to the new situation.
More advanced skiers and snowboarders will find 30 intermediate runs. With diverse routes and terrains you certainly won't get bored. For true experts, Whakapapa offers 24 Black Diamond Runs. Furthermore, the Black Magic Backcountry Area provides a great freeride experience. The area can be accessed by lift.
On Mountain Dining
Whakapapa has a variety of dining facilities.
Knoll Ridge Cafe is New Zealand's highest situated café. Its location presents you with a unique view of the resort. On the menu you will find dishes from around the world, fresh salads, as well as a variety of snacks.
Happy Valley Bistro is found right by the beginner's area. Hence, it is especially suited for families. The restaurant is known for its delicious pizzas and hot dogs. After your meal you can warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee.
Lorenzs' Bar and Cafe is situated by the valley station. Indulge in a hearty breakfast in the morning or enjoy a nice cold beer at the end of your day.
At four kilometers long and with a drop of 675 meters, Whakapapa's longest run is the valley run.
If you spend your winter holiday at Mt Ruapehu, you shouldn't miss the neighbouring ski resort Turoa. While smaller than Whakapapa, the ski resort offers some additional easy, intermediate, and expert terrain, as well as a number of powder runs. Moreover, it is home to New Zealand's highest lift, Highnoon Express.
Infrastructure & Rental
Mt Ruapehu is located approximately halfway between Auckland and Wellington. The easiest way to get there is by following State Highway 4 until National Park. From there, Highway 47 leads directly to Whakapapa.