Things to do and places to visit in the Turangi / Ohakine / Raetihi region
OHAKUNE In winter and summer, the town of Ohakune is a base for adventures in the Tongariro National Park. It’s also the ‘carrot capital’ of New Zealand. First settled by the Ngati Rangi (Sky People) and Ngati Uenuku (Rainbow People), Ohakune is the southern gateway to the Tongariro National Park. Sitting at the foot of Mt Ruapehu with both ski areas close by, the town is well-equipped with accommodation, restaurants and snow-related retailers. During the warmer months, Ohakune looks after those who come to hike, mountain bike and canoe in the Tongariro and Whanganui National Parks. Other local activities include white water rafting, horse trekking, golf and 4WD driving. Every year Ohakune hosts the annual Carrot Carnival as well as the Mountain Mardi Gras, a celebration to the start of the winter season. Ohakune is also known as a market gardening area. The 10-metre carrot that welcomes you to the town is unforgettable and an iconic spot for a photograph.
RUAPEHU The Ruapehu region is defined by the three volcanoes that stand sentinel over a landscape of tussocked desert, rivers, lakes and thermal springs. Today the volcanoes are part of the Tongariro World Heritage Park, New Zealand’s first national park. The centrepiece is the snow-capped Mount Ruapehu, alongside the two smaller cones of Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro. For skiers and snowboarders, Ruapehu is the site of two of the North Island’s best skifields. Snow pursuits aside, there are many other outdoor and adventure activities in the region. The hiking on offer in this region is absolutely spectacular. For sheer scenic incredibility, you must walk the Tongariro Crossing. This one-day hike takes you from alpine meadow to mountain summit across a surreal landscape of craters, coloured lakes and volcanic rock. For mountain bikers, there are two NZ Cycle Trail Network Trails; the Timber Trail and the Mountains to Sea - Nga Ara Tuhono Trail. There's also several smaller cycle trails rich in native landscape and history. The area is popular with hunters and, for trout fishers, the small tributary rivers provide excellent if challenging sport. Experience the tranquil Whanganui River by canoe or jet boat, isolated deep in the Whanganui National Park. There is plenty of accommodation in the towns around the area with everything from the basic backpacker’s hostels to boutique lodges and the Edwardian grandeur of the Chateau on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu.