Hotels in Ohakune, New Zealand
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Be adventurous amid stunning scenery in Ohakune
The small mountain town of Ohakune is the southern gateway to a breathtaking volcanic landscape of superlatives, showcasing New Zealand’s biggest lake and largest ski resort plus the North Island’s tallest mountain, Mount Ruapehu; an active volcano standing at 2,797 metres. Furthermore, bustling Ohakune offers outdoor activities in all seasons, including unforgettably scenic cycling and walking trails plus fishing and canoeing on surrounding rivers. Notable for growing carrots, Ohakune possesses hotels, bars, shops and eateries. It’s also a springboard to sedate hinterland attractions like museums and geothermal springs.
An action-packed town with a gentler side
Ohakune may be a launchpad to high-octane ski slopes, walking trails and volcanic highlands in the spellbinding World Heritage Site Tongariro National Park, but the town and its hinterland possess a calmer side, perfect for those seeking a gentler holiday experience. Ohakune’s quirkiest attraction, a giant replica of a carrot, is hard to ignore entering town westbound along State Highway 49. It honours the humble vegetable, which has grown abundantly nearby ever since Chinese settlers first planted them in the 1920s. The carrot theme continues in June when Ohakune is awash with orange for its annual Carrot Carnival. Around Clyde Street, summertime visitors will find most of Ohakune’s hotels, bars, eateries and shops selling lift passes and hiring ski equipment. In winter, the area surrounding Ohakune railway station becomes another hive of activity, featuring après ski bars and restaurants. The fascinating Railway Museum is also found in the town’s northern reaches.
Within easy driving distance of your Ohakune hotel there are attractions you can enjoy without bulky sports equipment or heavy duty footwear. The National Army Museum is 20 minutes’ drive away in Waiouru, displaying restored military weapons and vehicles plus memorabilia and war memorials. For those prioritising relaxation, geothermal baths fed by hot springs are dotted around Ohakune at places like Tokaanu, which is one hour’s drive away.
A winter sports wonderland
The combination of high ground in the heart of the North Island and reliable winter snowfalls between June and October make Ohakune a popular paradise for skiers and snowboarders. Twenty minutes’ drive north from Ohakune’s hotels, travellers can hurtle down the slopes in Turoa. Set on the southern side of mighty Mount Ruapehu, this sprawling ski resort boasts nine lifts. The even larger Whakapapa ski resort with 15 lifts is approximately 45 minutes’ drive away on the northern face. Together, the resorts boast runs of various difficulties and one combined pass enables lift access to all the slopes. Mountain users should come prepared for changeable weather and carry basic survival equipment in case conditions suddenly become challenging, whatever the time of year.
Enjoy outdoor pursuits in summertime
In summer, pretty Ohakune remains a great hotel base for adventures in the gorgeous Tongariro National Park, which contains a well-developed network of huts and emergency shelters for hikers and rock-climbers. On Mount Ruapehu, seasoned adventurers can join guided walks to enjoy unrivalled views of its amazing crater lake. Elsewhere, walkers can strap on their boots for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, named among the world’s best one-day hikes. This linear 12-mile trail through a colourful, other-worldly landscape shaped by millennia of tectonic activity passes the active volcanoes of Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe, which experienced scramblers can climb as an optional extra. En route, walkers pass hot springs and volcanic fumaroles issuing steam plus the twin Emerald Lakes with their greenish waters. There are also longer multi-day trails like the Tongariro Northern Circuit. Named among the New Zealand Great Walks, it passes picturesque Taranaki Falls. Shorter walks are available around Ohakune too. For cyclists, there are specialist shops and bike hire businesses near Ohakune’s hotels. Popular cycling routes include the lengthy Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail or the nine-mile Old Coach Road mountain bike path crossing the scenic Hapuawhenua Viaduct and slicing through native bush.
Waterways near Ohakune host numerous outdoor activities and hold special cultural significance for Maori people. Occupying the caldera of a dormant supervolcano, Lake Taupo, which is New Zealand’s largest lake, boasts trout fishing plus boat trips to see Maori rock carvings. Ranked among the world’s best trout fishing rivers, the inflowing Tongariro River is another magnet for anglers. Meanwhile, adventurous types can leave their hotels in Ohakune behind to undertake the Whanganui Journey, a five-day canoeing or kayaking odyssey along the magnificent Whanganui River, which skirts the beautiful Whanganui National Park. It’s the only waterborne route among the New Zealand Great Walks.
Admire the superb scenery
To admire the fabulous mountain scenery around Ohakune from afar instead of getting amongst it wearing skis or boots, you can let the train take the strain by riding local sections of the North Island Main Trunk railway line, which stops in town as it links Auckland with Wellington, New Zealand’s vibrant capital city. Trains heading north from the hotel hub of Ohakune negotiate the famous Raurimu Spiral, a marvel of civil engineering that cunningly twists and turns to overcome a 139-metre height difference.
Cinema addicts might recognise the mountainous terrain north-east of Ohakune because it’s where Kiwi filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson shot parts of his Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The imposing 2,291-metre cone of Mount Ngauruhoe is among the Taupo Volcanic Zone peaks considered sacred by the Maoris. On screen, it represented Mount Doom in evil Sauron’s stronghold of Mordor. Local tour operators organise trips to the Middle Earth filming locations nearby.