15 things to do in Ohakune: Skiing, augmented reality, rock climbing and more!

Discover the best things to do in Ohakune – the gateway to Turoa Skifield and National Park.

Ohakune, the carrot capital of New Zealand, is the perfect base for exploring Tongariro National Park.

Located at the foot of Mount Ruapehu, this town offers spectacular scenery of the active volcano and surrounding area.

With a laid-back atmosphere, plenty of shops and restaurants, and various activities, this small town has something for everyone.

Home to the only skiable mountain in the North Island, this is a popular spot for ski bunnies and families looking for their first taste of the white stuff.

There are a surprising number of off-mountain things to do in Ohakune too, whether that be cycling along the Old Coach Road, marvelling at the Hapuawhenua Viaduct or checking out a local museum.

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Kids playing in the snow of Ruapehu Region.

The Best Things to Do in Ohakune

Whether you’re keen to hit the slopes, snap a photo with a giant carrot (you read that right), or tuck into a tasty fresh-made chocolate eclair, this charming town has something for everyone.

So, in no particular order, let’s take a look at the top things to do in Ohakune!

1. Head to the Powderhorn Chateau for a Swim, Meal, or Drink

Visiting the Powderhorn Chateau is one of the top things to do in Ohakune!

The Powderhorn is a charming hotel that offers spacious suites and fantastic facilities. It’s situated right at the doorstep of Tongariro National Park making it the perfect base for your local adventure.

If you’re not staying here, then we recommend swinging by to dine at the iconic Powderkeg Restaurant and Bar. With its locally sourced ingredients, cosy atmosphere, and beautiful balcony, it’s one of the best places in town to grab something to eat.

You can even make use of the on-site indoor swimming pool, as you don’t need to be a guest to use the facilities. This is, however, subject to availability.

194 Mangawhero Terrace, Ohakune 4625

A couple inside a relaxing pool in Powderhorn Chateau.

2. Enjoy the Mangawhero Forest Walk

There are plenty of awesome hikes and trails in the area, but we recommend hiking along the Mangawhero Forest Walk.

It’s a 3km loop that should take around an hour to complete, so doesn’t require a lot of exertion.

The trailhead is located just a couple of minutes from the Powderhorn Chateau, and from there you’ll cross the Mangawhero River before heading into the forest. You’ll then get to wander through kāmahi, broadleaf, and kahikatea trees before crossing a volcanic crater.

On the way back, you’ll cross the Ohakune Mountain Road and be rewarded with stunning views.

Trust us – this is a hike that you don’t want to miss out on!

A foot wearing a brown shoe pressed against the rocks of a river.

3. Go on a Self-Guided Bike Tour Along the Ohakune Old Coach Road

This charming town is the perfect place for cyclists, so why not hop on your bike and explore the region?

If you don’t have your own wheels (or can’t be bothered lugging them around), check out this fantastic tour. They’ll sort you out with all the gear you need and a safety briefing. Then will transport you to Horopito where you’ll cycle along the Old Coach Road.

From there, you’ll explore open bushland, ride over viaducts, and make your way through train tunnels. The Old Coach Road really does show off the best of this area. And of course, you’ll also get epic views of Mount Ruapehu and the Waimoro Plains.

The route from this side is mostly downhill so it’s relatively easy and takes around four hours to complete.

Did you know? If you don’t want to take on the whole trail, it’s possible to walk to the Hapuawhenua Viaduct from Ohakune. See #8 for more information.

Family tourists looking at their map while stopping on the bridge with their bikes.

4. Get Involved in Some Winter Sports – Ski, Snowboard or Toboggan

If you’re heading to Ohakune during the winter season, then you have to head up the mountain for some snow sports. You’ll have no shortage of options, as this scenic town is a great spot for skiing, snowboarding and sledding.

The closest ski field to Ohakune is Turoa, but you’ve also got Whakapapa a relatively short drive away. Both of these ski fields are located on Mount Ruapehu and can be reached by car or shuttle.

If you’re looking to ski then both are great options. If you head to Turoa you can admire the views from New Zealand’s highest chairlift, whereas Whakapapa is home to the Sky Waka.

A tourist beneath the cable cars looking at the snow covered surroundings of Mt. Ruapehu.

5. Check Out the Ohakune Railway Museum

Visiting the Ohakune Railway Museum is one of the best things to do in Ohakune on a rainy day.

The museum opened in 2010 and was built to showcase Ohakune’s importance when the Main Trunk Railway was built.

Not only will you get to learn about the local area but the Ohakune Railway Museum also offers exhibits about railway operations across the country. There are currently four fantastic exhibits to explore.

Plus you’ll get to learn about the historic Tangiwai disaster too.

Although the museum isn’t large, you won’t want to rush your visit so leave plenty of time to wander around.

62 Thames Street, Ohakune 4625

A road outside Ohakune Railway Museum.

6. Take on an Indoor Rock Climbing Wall

There are plenty of outdoorsy things to do in Ohakune, but we’ve got another rainy-day activity for you too.

In fact, there are a few rock climbing options in and around Ohakune.

You’ll find Vertigo Climbing located in the town centre. It comes complete with two new-generation climbing areas and twelve Clip ‘N Climb challenges. In addition, it has a ‘real rock climbing wall’ which is over 10 metres high and 12 metres long.

For such a small town, this is a seriously impressive climbing space!

If you fancy exploring the area outside of town, you can also head to the National Park Backpackers Climbing Wall. It has an 8-metre high climbing wall and over 50 different climbing routes, so there’s something for everyone there.

Both climbing centres cater to climbers of all abilities – even if it’s your first time on belay.

Vertigo Climbing Centre: 27 Goldfinch Street, Ohakune 4625

National Park Backpackers Climbing Wall: 4 Findlay Street, National Park 3989

A kid hanging on the harness in an indoor rock climbing.
Rock climbing down the road at National Park Village.

7. Grab Some Lunch at Toastie

If you’re a big foodie like us, then you’ll want to visit Toastie while you’re in the region.

This place prides itself on making a variety of delicious toasties. And we think it’s the perfect snack to fill you up during a full day of exploring.

You’ve got plenty of choices including:

  • the classic ‘Goldie’
  • ‘Betty’ which consists of ham and pineapple
  • ‘Owen from Ohakune’ which includes corned beef, carrots, and mustard mayo.

Each one is served with four different types of cheese and is a delight for all the senses.

Toastie is open seven days a week between 7 am – 4 pm, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to grab one of these tasty snacks.

49 Clyde Street, Ohakune 4625

Toastie snack in Toastie.

8. Walk along Hapuawhenua Viaduct

During your time in Ohakune, make sure you walk along the iconic Hapuawhenua Viaduct. It is part of the Old Coach Road and is an impressive 51 metres high and 414 metres long!

To reach the viaduct, you’ll need to walk for around 45 minutes from Ohakune Station – but trust us, it’s worth it.

Alternatively, you might come across the viaduct while riding your bike along the full length of Old Coach Road.

Although Hapuawhenua Viaduct is impressive on its own, the views from here are spectacular too. Plus you’ll also get to walk through the Hapuawhenua Tunnel which is an experience in itself.

So, if you’re looking for walks in Ohakune, don’t miss this one.

A wooden bridge wider than usual ones leading to a viaduct in Hapuawhenua. It passes along the forests and trees.
Photo credit: Johnragla.

9. Snap a Photo of the Giant Carrot

As we mentioned previously, Ohakune is the ‘carrot capital’ of New Zealand. It’s famous for its production of this orange vegetable, and what better way to commemorate the achievement than by building a giant carrot?

This gigantic carrot has been around since 1984 and is one of the town’s most iconic attractions!

At a height of 7.5 metres it’s quite the sight, so make sure you grab a photograph of it during your visit.

You’ll find the Ohankune Carrot by the entrance to the Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park which is perfect if you’re visiting the region with your whānau.

4a Rangataua Road, Ohakune 4625

Huge carrot statue in Ohakune.

10. Visit the Tangiwai Memorial

Whilst you’re in Ohakune, make sure you visit the Tangiwai Memorial to pay your respects.

The Tangiwai Disaster occurred on the 24th of December in 1953 and sadly was New Zealand’s worst-ever railway disaster.

Due to the eruption of Mount Ruapehu, a lahar caused one of the railway bridges in the area to collapse. Unfortunately, although the conductor tried his best to stop the train, the first six carriages plunged over the bridge.

The disaster killed 151 people, all of which are recognised by the memorial in town.

You can learn more about this tragic disaster at the Ohakune Railway Museum.

Small statue of Tangiwai Historic Reserve.
Photo credit: Schwede66.

11. Chow Down on a Freshly Made Chocolate Eclair

Without a doubt, picking up a chocolate eclair from Johnny Nation’s Chocolate Eclair Shop is one of the top things to do in Ohakune!

Your trip to this charming town isn’t complete without tasting one of these iconic eclairs, so be prepared for the best dessert of your life. They are that good.

These freshly made chocolate eclairs are the size of your hand, and they are full of delicious fresh cream.

If you only manage to grab one during your stay, then you’ve got more willpower than us.

There’s also a wide variety of other cream cakes for you to try, but whatever you do, don’t overlook the eclairs.

Just keep in mind that the shop is only open during the winter season, so plan to visit between May and November.

78 Clyde Street, Ohakune 4625

A kid eating a Johnny Nations Chocolate Eclair

12. Go on a Canoe Safari Down the Whanganui River

Joining a canoe safari down the Whanganui River is undoubtedly one of the best things to do near Ohakune.

There’s nothing quite like being on the water as you make your way down a river, and National Park is right at the start of the action.

Whether you’re looking to do a one-day tour or a multi-day tour, there are tonnes of fantastic tour operators in the area. Some of the most popular choices include Canoe Safaris (located right in town), and Owhango Adventures and Whanganui River Adventures (both of which are just out of town).

Before you make a decision we suggest you shop around to find the best fit for you.

Did you know? The Whanganui River is actually considered one of our Great Walks. It is the only one that isn’t actually a walk, making it particularly unique.

Canoeing in the misty Whanganui River.
Paddle down the Whanganui River, starting near Ohakune. Photo credit: Department of Conservation.

13. Play a Round of Disc Golf

If you’re looking for a slightly different activity in Ohakune, why not hit up the Ohakune Disc Golf course?

Moving around a course, in much the same way as is done when playing a traditional round of golf, you won’t need balls or clubs for this game! Instead, you’ll fling a frisbee for the nets.

In total they have 7 baskets, making up four different 9-hole courses.

Suited to people of all skill and fitness levels, this is a great way to entertain the troops, regardless of who they are.

Discs are available from TCB, the Powderhorn, Kings, TOP 10 holiday parks and even the craft house. The cost varies from $15 to $20 a day for rental.

95 Mangawhero Terrace, Ohakune 4625

A kid playing a frisbee in Mangawhero Terrace Course.

14. Take your Kids to the Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park

If you’ve got little ones, the Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park is an absolute must-visit when visiting town.

Not only will you find the famous giant carrot by the entrance but in the adventure park, you’ll also spot some big cartoon vegetable friends including a swede, potato, brussels sprout and a parsnip too.

That’s not all though. You’ll also find a well-equipped playground, a bike track, an assault course (perfect for older kids) and a number of walking tracks that weave their way outside of the adventure park.

Family trailing with mountain bikes at Ohakune Tracks.

Though a small town like Ohakune might not be top of mind when it comes to technology, they actually have their very own augmented reality game designed for kids aged 6 to 11.

To get involved, simply download ‘Magical Park‘ for free from the App Store or Google Play, and head to Carrot Park.

4a Rangataua Road, Ohakune 4625

Mother and daughter playing with rope ladders in a children's playground.

15. Head out Tramping in the Tongariro National Park

With so much memorable scenery around, keen trampers will want to make the short trip to Tongariro National Park.

This part of the country is unique thanks to its volcanic backdrop so go well prepared with your camera (and comfy shoes for the walk, of course).

We recommend:

  • Beginners: Gollum’s Pool (Tawhai Falls) for stunning scenic waterfall views after just a 10-minute walk.
  • Intermediate to Advanced: Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of our Great Walks. This walk spans 19.4km.
  • Advanced: Tongariro Northern Circuit, a 4-day walk that includes the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
A backpacker standing on the edge of a small green lake in the middle of a mountain ranges.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Photo credit: Camilla Rutherford.

There are tons of fantastic things to do in Ohakune, so it’s best to spend a few days here at least. That way you’ll have time to explore Tongariro National Park, and everything that is on offer in and around town.

Have you ever visited Ohakune?

If you have, we’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

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