Ohakune has been called the ‘après ski capital of the north’. This new image of a party town may be seen as an alternative to its traditional role as the ‘Carrot Capital’ of New Zealand.
The town is strategically placed at the foot of Mountain Road leading directly to the Turoa Ski Resort on Mt. Ruapehu. For much of the year it is a quiet rural centre focused on quality vegetable production. However it comes alive in the skiing season from June to October. After dark you can find cool music, fine wines, roaring fires, friendly people and a great holiday atmosphere in the cafes, restaurants and bars. There is also a wide choice of chalet-style lodges for overnight stays.
Ohakune township is divided into two parts. The Junction has the train station and a cluster of hotels and restaurants for the ski set and the commercial heart is south of the town on the main road. The Ruapehu visitor centre is located in Clyde Street. You will find a good selection of outdoor clothing and craft shops in Ohakune.
There are so many new experiences on offer here that Ohakune may become the ‘Queenstown of the north’. Guided adventures you can enjoy include mountaineering, ice-climbing, skiing, snowboarding, jet boating, bushwalking, golfing and scenic flights. Turoa and its neighbour Whakapapa are the North Island’s premier ski fields and both have world-class facilities.
When the snows have melted and the ski-rental shops have closed, street traffic beneath the imposing ‘Big Carrot’ icon is much more sedate. It is then the tramping and biking enthusiasts trundle into town followed by devotees of white water rafting, canoeing and trout fishing.
The best walking tracks lead off the 17 km long Mountain Road. Mangawhero Forest Walk is opposite the Department of Conservation centre and further up the road is the Rimu Track as well as the Old Blyth Track and the Waitonga Falls Track. Lake Rotokura at Karioi, 11 kms south is a little jewel, great for picnicking, fishing or just relaxing.
Whatever time of the year you choose to visit Ohakune you will find it an excellent base of operations and a fun place to kick back at the end of each day.