Ohakune is celebrated for being both the 'carrot capital' of New Zealand and a playground for thrilling outdoor adventure activities. The ski fields on Mount Ruapehu, an active volcano, are a powdery wonderland for winter sports enthusiasts. When the snow melts, bikers and hikers take to the challenging trails, which offer breathtaking views. There's a lively social scene here, especially in ski season and in May, when the annual Carrot Carnival pays homage to the town's carrot-growing history.
Stay in an Ohakune hostel close to the stunning scenery of Tongariro National Park. Some offer views of Mount Ruapehu and many have a warm, lodge-type feel, with natural wooden decor and a cosy fireplace. You'll find luxuries in Ohakune hostels too, with outdoor hot tubs, saunas and a swimming pool. Ohakune backpackers hostels also have laid-back lounges for downtime and some have games rooms with foosball and pool tables for a fun night in.
There are rugged and beautiful outdoor regions to explore around Ohakune. During ski season Tūroa is a top spot if you're keen on snow sports. It's the country's largest ski area and also has its longest vertical drop. For walkers, the dense forest of Whanganui National Park provides hours of trails to explore, while bikers may want to visit the Old Coach Road, a former coach route that weaves past historical sites. The town of Ohakune has plenty of shops as well as restaurants serving delicious fare like wood-fired burgers and homemade cakes.
Activities in Ohakune centre around hiking, biking and skiing. Walkers can travel by shuttle to the rocky landscapes of Tongariro Alpine Crossing or into the depths of Whanganui National Park. Whanganui's concrete Bridge to Nowhere is an unexpected and surreal sight amid the wilderness – you can also reach it by canoe or jet boat. Cyclists have a choice of trails and can use the Old Coach Road half-day ride to start the 200km, multi-day Mountains to Sea route. In snowy months, the town's après-ski scene comes to life and is especially vibrant around the Tongariro Junction area.
Ohakune can be reached by InterCity bus. From Taupo it takes between 10 to 12 hours, changing at Hamilton – it's a long journey as the route bypasses the national parks. Taupo is only 2 hours away by car. From Auckland the fastest bus ride is 6 to 7 hours. You can also take the scenic Northern Explorer train from Auckland. To get around Ohakune catch local buses and shuttles or hire a bike.