Getting to Turoa

Getting to Turoa

Backcountry Books Ski & Snowboard Guide Books & Maps

Where is Turoa?

The Turoa Ski Area is located on the southwestern slopes of Mount Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park, a dual World Heritage Area in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand. The Turoa ski field is roughly halfway between Auckland and Wellington. For those coming from Wellington, Turoa Ski Area is closer than Whakapapa.

Distances to Turoa ski field:
  • Ohakune – 18km (20-30 minute drive)
  • National Park Village – 53km (45 minute drive)  
  • Whakapapa Village – 68km (55 minute drive)  
  • Whakapapa Ski Field – 75km (1 hour drive)
  • Taupo – 152km (2 hour drive)
  • Wellington (and the ferry to Picton on the south island) – 304km (3.5 - 4 hours)
  • Auckland – 377km (4.5 hours)

Driving to Turoa

Self-drive is the easiest way to get to the Turoa ski area, and having a car provides more flexibility once you’re there to drive around Ohakune and to Whakapapa. And unless you’re staying at the Powderhorn Chateau or the Ruapehu Mountain Motel and Lodge, most Ohakune accommodation is too far away from the shuttle bus stops to Turoa to easily walk there whilst carrying gear (especially in ski boots).

To drive from Ohakune to Turoa is via the Ohakune Mountain Road which starts near the train station and the Powderhorn Chateau. The road is paved, which is somewhat unique for a New Zealand ski field, and initially the road is steep as it heads through a rain forest with lots of ferns. Further up, the road mellows out somewhat and the landscape opens up.

Chains for Turoa Ski Area

Surprisingly it’s not compulsory to always carry chains to drive up to Turoa during winter, and they’re only required on specified days. If you’re renting a car in Auckland or Wellington it’s near impossible to get chains with the rental car, so you’ll need to hire chains once you get to Ruapehu. Your best bet is to rent them from TCB or one of the other Turoa ski shops. You can also rent chains on the way up the road, but you could be waiting for a mighty long time.

[AdListings collection="New Zealand" category="Country Wide" subcategory="Car Rentals"] [AdListings collection="New Zealand" category="Country Wide" subcategory="Campervan Rentals"]

Car Parking

Car parking is free (unlike skiing in Australia with its exorbitant resort entry fees) and the top car parks are paved whilst the lower car parks turn into a muddy mess, which is more the norm for a NZ ski field. Once the upper car park is full, complimentary shuttles take you from the lower car parks to the base of the ski area. It’s pretty common on weekends for the Turoa car parks to reach capacity, and then your only option is to catch a shuttle up from Ohakune, and you might be waiting a while.

Shuttle Between Ohakune & Turoa Ski Area

There are 4WD shuttle buses between Ohakune and Turoa, which depart from the Snow Depot Powderhorn Chateau) at the bottom of the Ohakune Mountain Road and the Carrot Park & Ride.

There is a decent fee charged for the shuttles (which is surprising considering the car parking capacity problem at Turoa) and there aren’t enough departure times to make this an attractive proposition for many people, but if you’ve caught a bus or train to Ohakune (see below) then this is your only option for getting up the hill.

Bus from Auckland or Wellington to Ohakune

Taking a bus to Ohakune is another transport option from Auckland or Wellington.

One option is the InterCity bus that runs from Auckland Sky Tower to Ohakune.

Train to Ohakune

Alternatively there’s a train service from Auckland and Wellington to Ohakune. The Northern Explorer is a scenic train service that runs between Auckland and Wellington, with stops at Palmerston North, Ohakune, National Park and Hamilton. It only runs a few days a week. Fares for the train trip are significantly more expensive than catching a bus.

Ski Resorts Nearby

Whakapapa Ski Resort is on the same lift ticket as Turoa and the two ski resorts are very close by as the crow flies, but it’s a 75km trip by road. Unfortunately there are no shuttles between Ohakune and Whakapapa, so the only way to get there is to self-drive.

Tukino Ski Field is a little club field that sits on the eastern face of Mt Ruapehu. From Ohakune it’s 48km to the start of the Tukino Access Road, and then it’s 14km of hard yakka road from there.