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10 Mind-Blowing Mt Ruapehu Walks


Walks and hikes on Mt Ruapehu.

There’s a lot to uncover on New Zealand’s largest volcano, which is best done by lacing up your hiking boots. The Mt Ruapehu walks and hikes take you to Mt Ruapehu’s most magnificent landscapes and most epic views. Walks range from short walks through the forest on the slopes of the volcano to multi-day missions around the entire mountain! Whatever type of hiker you are, you’ll find the perfect walk for you on Mt Ruapehu.

Mt Ruapehu is in the centre of the Tongariro National Park, best accessed from either National Park or Whakapapa Village on the north side of the mountain, or from Ohakune on the southern flanks of the mountain. For more information on the area, check out 14 Outstanding Things to Do in Ohakune and 10 Epic Things to Do in National Park Village.

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1. Meads Wall (10 minutes one way)

See the natural wall with epic views looking out to Mt Ngauruhoe on the Meads Wall Walk. This super short walk starting from the bottom of the Rangatira Chairlift at the Whakapapa ski field will take you to a Lord of the Rings filming location, as well as some fantastic rocks that you can’t resist climbing on. For more Lord of the Rings filming locations to check out in the area, take a look at The Famous Lord of the Rings Filming Locations in Ruapehu. Note that the walk is usually not accessible in winter.

Location: Whakapapa ski field base area. Start from the bottom on the Rangatira Chairlift. Ask at the Vertical store if you are unsure.

2. Mangawhero Falls (10 minutes one way)

See the majestic 28m waterfall plummeting into the pool below. The short walk off the Ohakune Mountain Road gives you several vantage points of the falls, which, again, feature in The Lord of the Rings movies.

Location: About 13km up the Ohakune Mountain Road on your way up to the Turoa ski field.
 Jeff Hitchcock on Flickr

3. Mangawhero Forest Walk (1-hour loop)

At the base of Mt Ruapehu on the Ohakune side, this pleasant forest walk provides excellent examples of North Island forest. The walk occasionally brings you alongside the Mangawhero River, eventually crossing it and returning to the beginning of the track in a loop.

Location: The bottom of the Ohakune Mountain Road at the Department of Conservation visitor centre.

4. Rimu Walk (15 minutes return)

Starting in the same location at the Mangawhero Forest Walk (see above) this short walk is ideal for families with a track surface suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. It’s another amazing example of the vibrant forest on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu.

Location: The bottom of the Ohakune Mountain Road at the Department of Conservation visitor centre.

5. Round the Mountain Track (4-6 day loop)

Circumvent Mt Ruapehu on this exciting tramping track! Department of Conservation huts provides a place to sleep on your adventure through varying volcanic landscapes. See the diverse landscape that New Zealand’s largest volcano has to offer from alpine wetlands to beech forests to rocky plateaus, waterfalls and so much more! We consider it an awesome alternative to the Tongariro Great Walk Circuit nearby. Note that this walk is usually best done in summer.

Location: Start from either Ngauruhoe Place in Whakapapa Village, the Desert Road 31km from Turangi, or 11km up the Ohakune Mountain Road at a well signposted car park.

6. Waitonga Falls Track (1h20 min return)

Part of the Round the Mountain Track, the Waitonga Falls Track is a short walk through beech forest, over alpine wetland (with awesome views of the peak of the mountain on a clear day), and to the Tongariro National Park’s highest waterfall at 39m.

Location: 11km up the Ohakune Mountain Road at a well signposted car park.

7. Silica Rapids (2h30min return)

At the base of Mt Ruapehu on the Whakapapa village side, follow a cascading stream through alpine shrubland to the creamy-white terraces of the Silica Rapids. On a clear day, you’ll enjoy views of the peaks of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngaruhoe. The track ends about 2.5km above the start on the Bruce Road. Walk down the Bruce Road to return back to the start. Check out more walks to do nearby in 13 Walks Around National Park Village & Whakapapa Village.

Location: Signposted 250m above the Whakapapa Visitor Centre.
 Andrea Lai on Flickr

8. Waterfalls Descent (2 hours one way)

This walk is accessible from the Whakapapa ski field in summer. Either from next to Lorenz’s Cafe at the bottom of the Whakapapa chairlifts or from the Knoll Ridge Cafe, follow the trail past waterfalls on this rugged volcanic walk. The walk is easiest done as a descent from the Knoll Ridge Cafe. Note this walk can only be done in summer.

Location: Whakapapa ski field base area.

9. Skyline Walk (1h30min return)

For endless photo opportunities, follow the walk from the Knoll Ridge Cafe to the Skyline Ridge taking you 2,300m above sea level. On a clear day, you’ll get remarkable views of Mt Ngauruhoe, Lake Taupo and more!

Location: Start from the Knoll Ridge Cafe on the Whakapapa ski field in summer. Either take the chairlifts to the cafe or walk up the Waterfalls Descent track (see above).

10. Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake (5-7 hours return)

The volcanic crater of Mt Ruapehu and its milky blue waters are an impressive sight, making it a hike to remember. However, the trail to Mt Ruapehu is not marked and can be pretty dangerous without the correct gear and knowledge of alpine environments. However, there are plenty of guides operating out of National Park Village, Whakapapa Village and from the Whakapapa ski field that can take you on the adventure. For a guide on how to get to the crater lake in winter, see How to Get to the Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake in Winter.

Location: Start from either the Whakapapa ski field base area (7 hours return walk) or from the Knoll Ridge Cafe (5 hours return walk).

Videos About Mt Ruapehu

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