New Zealand, Oceania, Reviews, Travel Review 43

First time skiing experience with Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand

We are always up for new adventures and experiences, it is one of the top reasons why we love travelling so much, and skiing is one of those experiences that we have been wanting to try for a while! Before we moved to New Zealand, I made a list of the top things we were looking forward to doing here, and I am happy to say we have finally fulfilled this from our bucketlist last weekend on our epic skiing holiday with Mt Ruapehu Ski and Snowboard 🙂

This post is mainly targeted towards people planning their first skiing holiday, and our experience is with families doing it with children. It is useful for knowing what to expect from a skiing holiday as we had learnt a LOT about preparation, when to go, what to do and bring, and how best to make this a memorable, budget, and relaxing holiday. We loved it so much that we are going back for more in 2 weeks time during our campervan trip in South Island!


Where to go skiing?

Mt Ruapehu is one of the only places you can ski in the North Island – there are two ski fields and both are managed by the same company. We went back and forth between the two  – Whakapapa and Turoa – and whilst both looked really lovely, we went with Turoa as we heard the Alpine Meadow – for beginners like us – here had more space to ski and snowboard in.  On the other hand, for more advanced skiers, there is a massive 722m of vertical descent on New Zealand’s highest chairlift – The “Highnoon Express”  There is one other ski field run by a different company but it is very small.

Very centrally located, 4.5 hours from Auckland and 4 hours from Wellington, Ruapehu is the most active volcano and the highest peak in North Island.  It is based inside the Tongariro National Park, oldest national park in New Zealand.

Just for geeky Lord of The Ring knowledge trivia, this is the location of Mount Doom where Frodo and Sam comes to drop the ring – “The maze of razor-sharp rocks, cliffs and ravines of Emyn Muil”

Best time to go? Being one of the only ski resort here in North Island, and being so centrally located, it gets super busy on the weekends. Your best bet is to go in the middle of the week and they have some great rates during that time. During the winter season, lift facilities operate from 9AM-4PM daily (weather dependent).  The ski seasons goes on until October 26th this year. Below are two pictures of the same place – one on a Saturday, super busy, the other when we went back Monday!

Very busy during weekends

Very busy during weekends


Less crowded on weekdays

How much does it cost? 

There are different prices depending if you are just getting lift passes, or renting equipment as well. For the full list, see here. We got the Discover Package $115 for adults, $85 for children which included  – Full day Beginners’ area lift pass, hire of skis, boots and poles, and 1 hr 50 min group lesson.



Where to Stay? This will depend which ski field you want to base yourself in. For Turoa it is better to be based in Ohakune. There are several budget and luxury accomodation here to choose from. We stayed at a lovely place – Ossies Chalet and Apartments – and it’s about a 20 minutes drive to Turoa skifield.

What other facilities are there?

There were several facilities here including childcare, cafes, ski and clothes rental, workshop services and more! At Turoa it was all conveniently located around this one big square with different buildings for each. For all other questions – storage, shuttles, and other logistics, see here.

2015-09-15 14.12.09

How easy is it to learn?

Obviously we can only speak for ourselves, and everyone has different learning curves and ability to pick up a new sport. The kids had it down within a few hours, followed by Ashique and then there was me, cautious and wary, but eventually, within a few hours, we were all going down the gentle slopes. We all fell a few times, but no serious injury for anyone 🙂





We found out that a skiing trip is perfect for a family holiday

I can’t vouch for all ski areas, but Mt Ruapehu and the surrounding resort towns catered for the whole family, whether there are beginners, intermediate or advanced skiers in the family. The Alpine Meadow area was perfect for beginners like us but we also saw some amazing skiers and snowboarders doing all kinds of tricks and stunts on the other slops.  Additionally, our trip here at Mt Ruapehu was special as we were lucky to get two “blue bird days” 🙂 Monday skiing was unreal, by the end of the day we were skiing with no jackets, gloves or hats, just in Tshirts!

skiing in Tshirts

Skiing in Tshirts

Children seem to learn much faster than adults!

I will let this video speak for itself, Shahaar’s second day skiing. Both kids were amazing! And it just wasn’t our kids, I couldn’t believe how good some of the little kids were – zipping along, tiny 4 year olds, going so fast as well!


Few lessons and tips learnt from our first time experiences

Firstly, it is much cheaper to rent outside than here at the ski resort. There were several venues at Ohakune where we stayed, including the chalet we stayed at. Secondly, you don’t really have to rent jackets if you have an outdoor waterproof jacket (which we did.) For some reason, we thought skiing jackets would be different and we had rented them the first day. It wasn’t necessary at all. Also good to shop around for things like goggles, gloves, hats before even getting to the area.

Secondly, we found the 2 hour lessons really helpful for getting started. The instructors are very good and there are separate lessons for adults and kids, plus for people of different skill level. After the first lesson, and once you can stop and turn, you are good to go!

How long can we ski for?

At first I had thought we wouldn’t be doing it more than half the day. But we ended up being here from 10am till 5:30pm! The morning just goes by super fast with getting geared up, renting skis, having the two-hour lessons and by the end of it, you are ready for lunch! We had a long lunch break, much needed, although it was super crowded and hard to get seats. Food was good but expensive, the free hot chocolate that the kids got was just instant Cadbury style chocolate. Many people brough their own packed lunches and drinks.

The skiing itself was just brilliant. We just love sports that are based outdoors, set in beautiful nature 🙂 Even when we weren’t skiing or having lunch, it was just lovely to sit on top of the hills and enjoy the panoramic views, breathe in the fresh crisp air, and build snowmen. On the first day, Shama was getting a bit frustrated with not picking it up as fast as her brother and after a few attempts, the two of us left our skis, climbed up the hill and just enjoyed the glorious weather.




We left around 5:30, tired but happy. We started driving down the mountain, very slowly, as the sun was just setting and we had to stop at several points along the way to enjoy the sunset and the beautiful colours reflected on the mountain.




The next day we drove up to the other Skifield Whakapapa, just to see if it was very different from Turoa. We had no intention of skiing on the busy sunday and was saving our 2nd ski day for monday after the crowds had left. We explored the area and did a few short walks at different points of interest. Stunningly beautiful is all I have to say about it and deserves a post on of its own!

The Mountain is calling and I must go

The Mountain is calling and I must go

disclaimer – We were kindly provided with Discovery Package Passes by Mt Ruapehue but as always all opinions are my own. We genuinely enjoyed our first experience skiing here at Mt Ruapehu and could not have asked for a better venue and perfect weather to go with it!

First family skiing holiday

First family skiing holiday


The Selim Family Raasta

Linked to #wkendtravelinspiration, #weekendwanderlust and #MondayEscapes



My Travel Monkey

You Might Also Like

  • Marta says: September 18, 2015 at 11:16 am

    We’re looking at going skying with the kids this winter for the first time, but I am bit nervous about it: my only memory of skiing is from when I was about 10 and I was terrified! But it sounds like you had a lot of fun: we would go somewhere in Europe, this post just made me want to start looking into it again 🙂

  • Tim says: September 18, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    I used to ski here as a kid on Happy Valley before graduating to the bigger slopes. Had a lot of fun times here as it appears you doing. Really love reading about your time in NZ.

    • says: September 20, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Thanks Tim 🙂 We are enjoying our time in NZ a lot! must have been so much fun skiing as a kid here, our two loved it!

  • Monique says: September 18, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    That looks like fun! I lived in Canada for 5 years and never went skiing, but always hear it is great fun!

  • Dean @ La Vida Global says: September 18, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    It looks a great place for families. Almost every client I book to ski NZ will go to Queenstown in the south. It’s pretty rare for Aussies to ski the North Island so it should be quieter!

    • says: September 20, 2015 at 9:42 am

      Yeah most people we know go skiing in queenstown too, but I guess there are quite a few ski fields there, whereas it’s one of the only ones here, so it gets quite busy as well! We loved it on the monday, nice and quiet 🙂

  • Jolanta | Casual Travelers says: September 20, 2015 at 3:49 am

    Yes, the kids do pick it up much faster, don’t they? Our son doesn’t really like skiing. I’m a bit worried about getting hurt. But my daughter, the youngest, really liked it. I’m not into cold weather sports, so even though our winters are several months’ long, and we have a small mountain not too far, I don’t go skiing, but I’m glad you liked it. You have to come visit the U.S. ski resorts some time. LOTS of mountains to ski on.

  • shobha says: September 20, 2015 at 9:26 am

    My kids started when they were 4 and they were like rubber bands – falling down and getting up without a problem. It takes me forever to struggle up when I fall but they just bounced up. Now they are 9 and they are infinitely better than me. Which is OK, because I am a warm weather/beach person at heart 🙂

    • says: September 20, 2015 at 9:40 am

      That is really great that the kids pick up so fast! I am a warm weather person myself so was very surprised how much I enjoyed skiing 🙂

  • Meg Jerrard says: September 20, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Ooooh thanks for this post! We’re in Australia, and I’ve never skiied before, though it’s one of those things I want to make sure I learn how to do before I kick the bucket, so am going to plan for this in NZ because we’re so close. $115 for a beginners package is much cheaper than I had thought it would have been – bonus! And I’m hoping that if the kids picked it up quickly then hopefully that means I might be semi decent at it too 😀

    Thanks for the inspiration!!

    • says: September 20, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      I am pretty sure you will do just fine 🙂 The lessons were great and yeah we found the whole deal – lessons, rental and skiing – for $115 really affordable! There are some very affordable place to stay at Ohakune as well. Post on that coming up!

  • Brenda says: September 20, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    My daughter started skiing at 4 years old, she’s now 11 and we both can’t keep up with her! I never thought about skiing in New Zealand, will keep it in mind when we finally get there one day!

    • says: September 20, 2015 at 8:36 pm

      You definitely should, am sure your daughter would love it! I hear skiing in south island even more beautiful, but I think we will always be biased towards Mt Ruapehu as we had our first memorable skiing experience here 🙂

  • Dana says: September 20, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Mt Ruapehue looks like an amazing place to ski! Your sunset picture is gorgeous! I don’t ski, but my husband and kids enjoy it. My son asked if he could try snowboarding this year.

    • says: September 20, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      Thank you, it was lovely to see the sunset 🙂 My son is thinking of snowboarding now as well!

  • Anda says: September 20, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Wow! Your first day of ski, Samiya! Isn’t skiing great? I love it. I have a very hard time learning, but I thought it was because I had a late start. I see though that you started later then me. I was 20 when I first put my ski boots on and the learning curve was pretty long. It took about 4-5 years of falls and bruises to finally say I was comfortable on skies. I bet the kids had a blast.

    • says: September 20, 2015 at 8:27 pm

      They did indeed! and yeah I definitely had a late start, took a bit longer than the kids to get comfortable, but eventually got there – being comfortable at the beginner slopes 🙂 lets see what next time brings!

  • Mags says: September 20, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    That’s so cool! (literally). I’ve never been skiing myself, I usually try to avoid the cold, but I’ve always wanted to try. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Katja - globetotting says: September 21, 2015 at 1:13 am

    I honestly think ski holidays can be some of the best family holidays! Your kids look like they had an amazing time. I also would really, really like to go skiing in New Zealand! Aa and when we get there, I know exactly where to go. Thanks!

  • Stacey Valle says: September 21, 2015 at 5:25 am

    This bought me back to my first and only snowboarding experience in los angeles which wasn’t quite breathtaking as this view! Snowboarding was really difficult for me! I kept falling on my a** many times, hahaha. I can’t imagine skiing! I haven’t tried that, so I’m not sure if I’ll pick up that faster comparing to snowboarding. This place sounds really magnificent, and I don’t mind doing this in New Zealand than in los angeles! It sounds like a great adventure and worth the money 🙂

  • Paula McInerney says: September 21, 2015 at 8:02 am

    I haven’t skied NZ yet, though Gordon has. Must rectify this next year and Mt Ruapehu looks perfect

  • Maria (one tiny leap) says: September 21, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Looks like a great intro to skiing! I haven’t tried skiing myself but we’re planning to this winter 🙂 We’ve just spent the afternoon in Treble Cone in Wanaka today and my son really caught the bug for it! Can’t wait to give it a go 🙂

    • says: September 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

      I am sure you will love it, especially your son! We are headed to wanaka next week on a 10 days campervan trip around south island, cant wait 🙂

  • Tara Cannon says: September 21, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    That looked like such a great trip. I always admire people who learn to ski as adults. It is so humbling to fall over when you are all grown up. Great job !

  • Heather Simon says: September 21, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    That looks very different than the mountains that we have in california and Colorado. Are there many trees up there? From your photos, looks like a lot of rocks, but are the sloops groomed so that there is no rocks? Looks beautiful!

  • Corinne says: September 22, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Wow, that’s a lot more snow than I would have thought would be there. I am finished skiing, but I would love to go hang out while Jim skied!

  • Olga Maria says: September 23, 2015 at 6:13 am

    This looks fun! I never ski before. It is on my list.

  • Shannon Entin says: September 23, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    My family LOVES skiing – and skiing in T-shirts is the BEST! Love your photos and glad you enjoyed your first experience! One of my bucket list items is to ski “in the summer” – to go to the Southern Hemisphere to ski when it’s summer here in North America!

    • says: September 23, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      We loved skiing in Tshirts 🙂 That did feel strange skiing in the ‘summer’ as we are from England and experiencing our first ‘winter’ in July!

  • Tamar says: September 23, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    This post made me want to try skiing again! Despite living in Canada, I’ve only skied once with bad results (broken nose & tooth)!! I’m looking forward to “get back on thar horse”!

    • says: September 23, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Oh no! that sounds really bad…very brave of you to want to try it again 🙂 Hope next time goes better!

  • Linda Bibb says: September 24, 2015 at 2:29 am

    What nice resorts, and the view is stunning! I can guess why Mt Ruapehue gave you guys free Discovery Package Passes. They obviously knew that you would have a great time. 🙂

    I’ve only been skiing once. Having long ago crossed it off my bucket list I hadn’t thought about doing it again – especially because I intensely dislike being cold and wet – but your post reminded me of how much I enjoyed it anyway. Perhaps it’s time to do it again, this time as an adult…and for sure that would include another set of lessons!

    The LOTR reference made me smile. Did you get up to where they filmed the scene?

  • Shilpa Balakrishnan says: September 24, 2015 at 3:01 am

    I can see all the fun you had in NZ :D.

  • Van (@snowintromso) says: September 24, 2015 at 10:10 am

    It’s funny, I don’t automatically associate NZ with ski holidays (living in Norway) but it seems like a wonderful country to do that! 😉

  • Packing my Suitcase says: September 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Skiing is sooo cool! First time I tried was when was living in Switzerland… I don’t even need to say how many times I fell hahaha
    I try to go once a year here in Europe, but it’s a bit expensive, considering you need to travel, pay for gear rent plus the entrances. It’s worth it though 😀
    This place is amazing, and I loved your pictures! While snow is going away on your side of the globe, here on my side is on its way 😀

    Thank you so much for linking up with #MondayEscapes

    • says: September 24, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      It seems so strange now that we have been to Switzerland four times now and have never gone skiing there! we always went in summer and as you said skiing so expensive in Europe (travel, accommodation, gear, etc) we had never been during our 10 years living in England! plus I normally hate the cold! but w did love is here and the kids fell in love with it, guess winter holidays are on our agenda now 🙂

  • mark says: March 14, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Looks like fun was had by all. Skiing in Australia is very price prohibitive i have only been once and that was on a school trip many years ago. My kids have never even seen snow lol

  • Voyager says: March 15, 2016 at 4:47 am

    Would love to escape the current heat in my place to cooler environs like this, the first time I skied, I managed to tie myself into an impossible tangle 🙂

  • Rob Taylor says: March 15, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Yes, it’s shocking how fast time flies when you’re in the snow. We haven’t taken our kids yet, so good to know that learning does take some time. We only just conquered skiing as adults ourselves, so a family ski trip is the next step.

  • Keri (Baby Globetrotters) says: March 15, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Wow some of those photos are absolutely stunning! I have been a hopeless flop after many attempts to ski I’m afraid so good on you all for giving it a decent try – I know my father in law can’t wait to teach the kids, they are avid skiers on that side of the family, hopefully that gene is passed down!

  • Ami says: March 18, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Those are some very handy tips for anyone who wants to go skiing in New Zealand . Never been skiing but someday hope to.

  • Ajay Sood says: March 21, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing! The slopes do look inviting! Just one observation though – normally New Zealand doesn’t seem crowded, but these slopes do look crowded. Is that true, or just the way the images are showing it to be?

    • says: March 21, 2016 at 10:57 pm

      It gets crowded on the weekends but we went on a Sunday and a Monday and the weekday was really nice and empty!

    %d bloggers like this: