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'.
There is a heap of accommodation in Ohakune but it is in high demand during the ski season, particularly during the weekend. Genuine backpacker accommodation is thin on the ground, but some mid range motels cover all bases with a ‘backpacker’ wing. Most accommodation insists on a minimum two night stay (or surcharge) during the weekend throughout the ski season.
DOC Mangawhero Campsite
$4 per adult
Located a couple of minutes drive up Ohakune Mountain Road from ‘The Junction’, Mangawhero Campsite is a very basic DOC camping area. Despite the rudimentary facilities it’s a popular place to park the van for a night or two.
site $41, cabins $65-$150
A small camping ground tucked in behind a residential area near the main road. In addition to campsites and cabins the holiday park features a range of motel like accommodation. A minimum two night stay applies during the ski season and rates bounce around depending on demand.
A backpackers option in a restored early 20th century house. Located at ‘The Junction’ near the railway station.
Matai Lodge was the Ohakune YHA, but recently LKNZ Lodge, which is a flash new building next to Matai Lodge, has become the name for the overall place, which includes the new LKNZ Lodge, Mountain View Lodge, and Matai Lodge... On the main road, across from the i-SITE.
The Clyde Hotel
One of the cheapest private room options in town. Most of the rooms use a shared bathroom, but a few have ensuites attached.
d $140-$180, backpacker twin $80, backpacker quad $160
We didn’t notice much in the way of middle earth going on. In addition to typical motel accommodation there is a separate backpacker wing with shared facilities. Four berth and two berth bunk rooms are rented on a room by room basis. Rates are reduced during the week.Booking.com
Located in the centre of town. Expect to pay closer to the high end of the price stated above during the weekend.Booking.com
Self contained units with small kitchenettes, located on SH49 about five minutes walk from the i-SITE.
The Powderhorn is the flash hotel in Ohakune. Located at ‘The Junction’ end of town. The attached bar is the hub of Ohakune’s nightlife.
Ruapehu i-SITE Visitor Information Centre
The i-SITE is a snazzy new building in the middle of town on SH49.
Department of Conservation (DOC) Ruapehu Field Centre
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.
1 day lift pass adult/youth $95/$57, beginner slopes only adult/youth $60/$36
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.
After Ski Revelry
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’.
Tramping & Cycling
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.
Transport To & From Ohakune
InterCity buses arrive and depart from outside, or just across the road from the i-SITE.
Palmerston North → Whanganui → Ohakune → National Park → Taumaranui → Te Kuiti → Otorohanga → Hamilton → Manukau → Auckland ω daily
Turangi → Whakapapa → National Park → Ohakune ω daily
Northern Explorer Train
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.
Wellington → Paraparaumu → Palmerston North → Ohakune → National Park → Otorohanga (Waitomo Caves) → Hamilton → Auckland ω three days per week
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.