Ultimate Heliski Tour New Zealand
Where is Turoa? Turoa is located on Mount Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park, a dual World Heritage Area in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand. The ski field is on the volcano’s south-western slopes, and roughly halfway between Auckland and Wellington.

Distances to Turoa ski field:
  • Taupo – 152km (2 hour drive)
  • Ohakune – 18km (30 minute drive)
  • National Park Village – 53km (50-55 minute drive)
  • Whakapapa Village – 68km (1:10 hour drive)
  • Whakapapa Ski Field – 74km (1:20 hour drive) 
Driving to Turoa The drive from Wellington to Turoa takes 4 hours. You get there by heading north up Highway 1, before turning left into Highway 49 at Waiouru, turning right into the Turoa Mountain Road at Ohakune, and driving just under 30 minutes to the ski field.

From Auckland you could be parking your car in the lower car parks of Turoa within 4.5 hours. Head south down Highway 1 then Highway 4 before veering left into Highway 49, then another left at Ohakune into the Turoa Mountain Road.

The mountain road from Ohakune to Turoa ski field was opened in 1963. However, work started many years earlier, with the establishment of the Mountain Road Association, a body formed by locals in 1952, to promote skiing at Mount Ruapehu.

Travelling through the beautiful rainforest above Ohakune is a mixed blessing. It’s a lovely experience if you’re into nature, sure, and the occasional views are breathtaking. But try telling that to someone who really just wants to get to the slopes. In other words, it’s a painfully slow affair, fully sealed but little fun to navigate, with occasional potholes. If you’re stuck behind a VW Kombi for the entire 17 kilometres, you’ll curse it all the way.

As is the custom in many ski areas around the world, you should always carry snow chains in the boot of your car. You might not be required to fit them, even less in a 4WD, but you don’t want to get caught on the mountain in a snow blizzard. Snow chains can be purchased or hired in Ohakune and National Park village.

Car Parking There is ample free parking at Turoa, no tolls or entry fees, and once the upper car park is full, complimentary shuttles will take you from the lower car parks to the base of the ski area in comfort. To the credit of management, it all runs very smoothly.

The same happens in the afternoon. Snow users keen to retire are picked up with no fuss and driven to their respective car park in no time. Now if only they could fully seal those car parks… Brown, slushy mud on white, expensive ski pants is NOT a good look!

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

Intercity Coachlines/Coach New Zealand offer at least one bus schedule per day from Auckland International Airport, Auckland city or Wellington. The buses leave Auckland or Wellington in the morning and the return trip arrives back in the evening.

Another option which is generally even cheaper is Naked Bus. They have a daily service from Auckland or Wellington (leaving in the morning) to Ohakune.

Kiwiana Tours offer a weekend bus service from Auckland to National Park and Ohakune. It departs Auckland on Fridays at 3pm and it returns late on Sunday night. The fares are more expensive than the other two bus companies.

Train from Auckland or Wellington to Ohakune Alternatively there’s a train service from Auckland and Wellington that is supposed to run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during winter (although some days it doesn’t) and stop at both National Park Village and Ohakune. Fares for the train trip are significantly more expensive than catching a bus.

Transport from Ohakune to Turoa From Ohakune there are various shuttle services up to the ski area.

Driving Between Turoa and Whakapapa The Mount Ruapehu Lift Pass is valid for both Turoa and Whakapapa. However, the two ski fields at Mount Ruapehu are NOT linked via the slopes and lifts, and it’s an 80 minute drive between the two. So if you want to sample both Turoa and Whakapapa, you’ll need to limit yourself to one resort per day.