Just in case you care, Ohakune is the carrot capital of New Zealand. There is a giant carrot monument beside the road on the way into town. The soil is probably suited to carrot growing, there is probably a tale of the first carrot farmer…. etcetera. Why Ohakune insists on pushing its vegetable claim to fame, we don’t know. Ohakune is the ski centre of the North Island. In winter the small town comes alive thanks to the nearby Turoa ski field. The bars fill up, accommodation re-opens for the season, ski shops are run of their feet, and the place is abuzz with ski bunnies.
Ohakune is split in two. The main part of town is nestled along State Highway 49, and the other half is near the main trunk railway, and known as ‘the junction’. The two are separated by about three kilometres. The commercial amenities and information centre are at the SH49 end of town, whereas the best nightlife is at 'the junction'.
Located a couple of minutes drive up Ohakune Mountain Road from ‘The Junction’, Mangawhero Campsite is a very basic DOC camping area.
The i-SITE is a snazzy new building in the middle of town on SH49.
The local DOC office is at the base of Ohakune Mountain Road and can provide all the info on local tramping tracks, and is also the place to buy hut tickets.
Turoa ski field is about half an hour drive from Ohakune, directly up Ohakune Mountain Road. Occasionally, tyre chains will be required, in which case there will be a spot to pull over, where chains can be rented and fitted for about $30.
There are a number places in town to rent ski gear. Apart from the fact that it’s sometimes cheaper than renting it from the skifield, it can save time you'd waste trying on gear when you arrive.
Turoa offers a range of runs from a gentle learner slope through to 'black runs' and access to off-piste areas. Check out www.mtruapehu.com for all the info, including trail maps. Refer further down the page for transport options to and from the skifield, otherwise hitching a ride from the bottom of Ohakune Mountain Road is an option.
The Powderkeg bar is ‘the’ place for a post ski drink. It’s chock full of punters on weekends during the ski season. The Powderkeg serves good meals (especially the epic vegetarian burger) for $15-$20.
Cheaper eats can be found at the SH49 end of town, but all of the action happens at ‘the junction’.
Refer to our Tongariro National Park page for hikes in the national park.
Apart from the giant novelty carrot proudly displayed alongside the main road, there is nothing obviously carroty about Ohakune. Carrot fiends hoping for pointy vegetable madness will be disappointed.
InterCity buses arrive and depart from outside, or just across the road from the i-SITE.
The Northern Explorer is the North Island’s last main-line passenger rail service. Formally the ‘Overlander’, it’s been rebranded as the ‘Northern Explorer’, has lost half its stops, and prices reflect its new tourism focus.
Matai Shuttles offer shuttle bus transport to Turoa skifield during winter, and tramping tracks during summer. Return transport to Turoa costs about $25 per adult.