The Local's Mountains: Snowboard like a Kiwi
Mighty Mt Ruapehu is home to two extensive resorts on the North Island of New Zealand sharing one active volcano. It boasts the longest season in the southern hemisphere and nothing but good times. The riding and scenery here is incomparable to anything else in the world.
Mt Ruapehu is located right in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand in the heart of the stunning Tongariro National Park, a World Heritage Site. Such is the beauty that it was chosen for many filming scenes in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies including Mordor and the Lonely Mountain. The ski resorts are on the North and Southwest facing slopes of the still active volcano and the area in between the resorts hold limitless backcountry options for those keen to work for their lines. The resorts consistently have the deepest snowpack in New Zealand and the longest season in the southern hemisphere, running from mid-June through to early November. Looking at the stats alone, doing a season here is a no brainer.
New Zealand is often known as the adventure capital of the world and the Ticket to Ride home base of Ohakune is a hub of activities. It rarely snows off the mountain in New Zealand so you can spend your down days riding bikes, exploring caves, hiking waterfalls or relaxing in some of the natural hot springs. Whatever your style, Ohakune has something for you.
Having a ski resort on an active volcano is a pretty gnarly idea, leave it up to the Kiwi’s to build two resorts on the same one! The terrain at Mt Ruapehu was sculpted over the centuries by lahar (volcanic mud) flows coming out of the crater lake at the peak of the mountain, leaving the mountain covered in amazing gullies, chutes and natural halfpipes. The freeriding here is top notch and a good day will stand out in your head for a lifetime. As the two resorts combined make NZ’s biggest snow area and with a season pass, there is no shortage of exploring to do.
Turoa Your main training base is home to Australasia’s longest runs, New Zealand’s highest lifts. After a few days you will easily see why the team call it home. Wide open bowls, steep chutes and a ripper of a park, a lap on the high noon express gives you a healthy mix of everything all in one run. Not to mention it’s only a 25 minute drive from home, so you can go from the crater lake on the peak to your back patio in no time.
Whakapapa The sunny side of the mountain has spectacular views of Lord of the Rings' Mount Doom. Over 550 hectares of top notch terrain with a little something for everyone. The far west quad has endless amounts of natural hits and the famous Pinnacles are used as a qualifier for the Freeride World Tour. Lots of lifts means you can easily lap your favourite runs until your legs are beat and it’s time to take in the views (and some beers) at the Knoll Ridge café.
The town of Ohakune is the hub of the North Island snow scene and the Ticket to Ride lodge is located right in the middle of it all. Everyone on one of the Ticket to Ride programmes will be based in the LKNZ lodge, a mere three minute walk away from bars, restaurants, supermarket, snowboard shops, skatepark and an indoor climbing wall.
The lodge itself is fully equipped so you might not even want to leave. Facilities include a hot tub, pool tables, BBQ’s, drying room, laundry facilities, several lounges and fully equipped kitchens. Staying here gets you a home cooked dinner five nights a week and breakfast from the restaurant seven days a week - there’s no going hungry here.
All the rooms are set up as twin share with two beds, lots of storage space, adjacent washrooms, and even come equipped with central heating, which is quite the luxury in New Zealand!
Ohakune is the North Island's party capital with a great variety of entertainment for all tastes. You have a great selections of bars just around the corner from the Ticket to Ride lodge with a healthy mix of locals and tourists. If you’re looking for even more excitement then simply head down to the famous Ohakune Junction, which hosts the annual Mountain Mardi Gras, a celebration of the start of the winter season. Last year over 6,000 people descended on the town for a massive concert with some of New Zealand’s top musical talent.
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