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Whakapapa skifield

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Title: Whakapapa skifield  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Tongariro National Park, List of ski areas and resorts in New Zealand, Whakapapa River, New Zealand State Highway 46, Ski areas and resorts in New Zealand
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Whakapapa skifield

Whakapapa Skifield
View from car park
View from car park
Location Mt. Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
Top elevation 2,300 m (7,546 ft)
Base elevation 1,630 m (5,348 ft)
Skiable area 1360 acres (550 ha)
Runs 67 named
Lift system 11 lifts: 6 chairs (1 High-Speed Quad, 1 Quad, 4 Double), 1 Magic carpet, 4 T-Bars (Capacity 15,000ph)
Whakapapa skifield is located in New Zealand
Whakapapa skifield
Whakapapa skifield is in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region.

Whakapapa, on the northern side of Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand's Tongariro National Park, is one of the mountain's two commercial ski fields. The other is Turoa, located on the mountain's south-western slopes. The ski season is generally from late June to late October, depending on snow and weather conditions. Turoa has a slightly longer season, generally opening a week before Whakapapa and closing early November. The terrain at Whakapapa Skifield is divided up as 25% beginner, 50% intermediate and 25% advanced. Access to the skifield is by Bruce Road, a 2-lane, 6 km sealed road. Limited accommodation and refreshments are available at 'Top o' the Bruce', at the entry to the skifield, and elsewhere on the mountain. Alpine huts are provided for trampers and climbers.

Mount Ruapehu's two skifields, Whakapapa and Turoa, are considered to be the largest ski resort in New Zealand. Both are owned and operated by the company Ruapehu Alpine Lifts.

Chateau Tongariro, which has appeared on several New Zealand stamps, is a feature of Whakapapa village.


  • Happy Valley 1
  • Lifts 2
  • 2009 Arson Attacks 3
  • Weather 4
  • Other activities 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Happy Valley

Happy Valley is a big beginners area at Whakapapa separated from the rest of the ski field in its own little valley and is considered one of the best in the country. The area has a cafe and ski hire facility, there is also a chair lift, one platter and a magic carpet.


Hut Flat Rope Tow (removed after 2014 season) with Mount Ngauruhoe behind

There are two new lift systems that have been proposed; the Valley Express and Tennants Express. The Valley Express will replace the Valley or Knoll Ridge T-Bar if the plan goes ahead it will be a six seater with a top speed of 5 meters per second and the ability to transport 3,200 people per hour, the Tennants express will replace the old Rockgarden Chair and will have the ability to transport 2,800 people per hour [1]

Lift Name Type Ride Time Vertical Rise
Double Happy Chair Double 4 min 30m
Happy Valley Chair Double 1 min 15m
Happy Valley Magic Carpet Magic Carpet 3 min 15m
Centennial Chair Double 8 min 130m
Rockgarden Chair Double 7 min 105m
National Chair (no longer in use) Double 17 min 170m
West Ridge Quad Quad 11 min 230m
Waterfall Express Chair Detachable Quad 7 min 250m
Waterfall T-Bar T-Bar 8 min 130m
Knoll Ridge T-Bar T-Bar 10 min 250m
Valley T-Bar T-Bar 8 min 190m
Far West T-Bar T-Bar 10 min 315m

2009 Arson Attacks

On 13 February 2009 arson destroyed two buildings at the skifield,[2] the main chalet and an implement shed containing three snow groomers. The damage was estimated at $11 to 12.5 million.[3] The main chalet, the Knoll Ridge Cafe was replaced by a new, more modern, facility slightly lower down the mountain with less visual impact than the old chalet.


Weather conditions can be changeable over the day, and mountain visitors are advised to be prepared and carry basic survival equipment. Although severe weather is unusual and generally forecast, it has claimed several lives over the years, including a party of soldiers undergoing winter survival training in 1990.The same storm also trapped a Japanese tourist when the weather unexpectedly closed in on him, but he built a snow cave and sheltered in it until he was rescued days later. On July 5, 2003 about 350 skiers and 70 skifield staff were trapped on the mountain overnight at Top o'the Bruce when a sudden snow storm blew up and within a few minutes made the access road too dangerous to descend. They spent the night in relative comfort and all descended safely the next morning. Such rapidly changing conditions are typical of the weather on New Zealand mountains. Again on Saturday July 26, 2008 skiers and staff were trapped on the mountain overnight when a fast approaching storm caused the skifield to be closed at 10:30am and made the road too dangerous for cars without chains or 4WD to leave the area. By 3pm there were still over 100 cars in the Whakapapa car park and those who had not been able to leave by that point were told to settle in for the night. All cars were able to leave safely the next morning.

Other activities

Tubing At Whakapapa Just across from Happy Valley is a tubing park called 'the sliding zone'. It is a large area dedicated to tubing, this is within walking distance from the base area.

Guided Crater Lake Walks Only offered in the summer months of the year there is an option to go and view the volcanic crater lake at the top of the mountain, you begin with a scenic chairlift ride up to 2020m then your guide will take you on a 6-hour walk around the lake with spectacular views.


  1. ^ "Ski Resort Makes Biggest Improvement Investment in New Zealand Ski History". 9 March 2006. 
  2. ^ "Building a picture of ski field arsonists". New Zealand Police. 19 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  3. ^ Simons, Louis (1 June 2009). "Uphill start for Ruapehu skiing". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 

External links

  • Skifield website
  • Arson At Whakapapa
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