Parent Hacks for Travelling with Kids to Mt Ruapehu

Kids learning to ski on Mt Ruapheu

If you’re looking for a North Island snow experience with the kids, then Mt Ruapehu is a popular spot. Our Travel NZ With Kids community shared their best tips and advice for travelling to the area. 

Where to go for kids snow fun on Mt Ruapehu

We decided to go to Turoa rather than Whakapapa. There is a great kids’ slope there to toboggan and play in the snow. ~ Jo

Happy Valley on the Whakapapa side is a good place to start learning as it’s away from all the faster skiers, there’s plenty of space to play (and fall over!), it has a cafe and is basically set up for beginners. The gondola (Sky Waka) is definitely worth a visit, and the views at the top café are amazing. ~ Aana

I recommend Whakapapa for tobogganing, as the tracks a longer and they have more lanes if it gets busy. They also use the fake snow, so you can also go anytime during the skiing season. There is a cost for Sledding (tobogganing) on both sides of the mountain now, in case you didn’t know already ~ Melissa

In Turoa, your best bet is to go in August/September as this is usually when there is snow right to the bottom and they have the sledding facilities operating. Whakapapa starts in June. Sledding starts then too. They have snow making facilities so cope with the lack of snow at the start. But to be honest snow making makes for terrible snow, it’s more frozen water drops as opposed to flakes. ~ Maria

Whakapapa is great! We stayed in the Turoa Yurts in Ohakune and just drove over to Whakapapa – there is an incredible park near the giant carrot, kept all our kids (even the teens… hell, even my man) entertained for hours. If you can budget going up the Sky Waka I highly recommend that too – it was a stretch for us with six kids but well worth it. ~ Natasha

Also if money is a factor playing in the snow on the side of the car park area is also very fun and loads of families with younger kids do that. ~ Rhian

Be there first thing so you can get into the car park. Also make sure you book a toboggan. ~ Sara

We went for first time last year with our girls the same age. After talking to friends we decided to go to Turoa rather than Whakapapa. There is a great kids slope there to toboggan and play in the snow. We ended up not even paying to go on the slope. There is heaps of snow in the free play area at the top and a great hill to slide down. We had about 4 hours of awesome fun. We did try to get a ski lift pass just to go up and see the top but left it too late in the day. ~ Jo

Play and sled by the Chateau and do some of the walks around Whakapapa village. All free and there was a ton of snow! ~ Sonia

Drive up the mountain and play in the snow along the sides of the mountain road. ~ Carrie

You can go to either Turoa or Whakapapa – we just went to Whakapapa in the school holidays. Drive up to the car parks – sometimes chains are needed and then just go up until you find a reasonable amount of snow on the side of the road and park in that car park – it’s free. I recommend putting the kids in their snow gear first so they can just hop out and you’re not messing around in the cold trying to get changed. ~ Daniella

Sort out your snow gear for the kids 

We had our own waterproof jackets but hired pants and boots. You can hire toboggans from Ohakune too that you can use on the free slopes on Turoa. Don’t buy anything unless you think you’ll use it a lot; you can hire anything you need in Ohakune. ~ Jo

Def need snow gloves! Don’t use wool gloves.. quite often you can pick them up cheap at shops, supermarket at the snow. $10 a pair.~ Justine

Remember you can arrive at the snow and get sunburned too. Layers are good because you warm up playing. Also a sun hat/block and sun glasses are recommended. Have dry clothes to change into afterwards. Snow boots from the warehouse are really worth it. Get a bigger size and extra socks so they can last longer. We got great kids snow gloves from PaknSave 😊 but if you are actually skiing then consider hiring the correct gear. ~ Carrie

I would advise against gum boots, they have no insulation. As soon as a bit of snow gets in you will have wet cold feet. Snow boots at the warehouse at like $20 and I would say worth it even just for one day, (also can probably hire for $10) ~ Jai

Everyone being warm and dry is the most important thing. Dress in thermals, snow socks, a jersey (if it’s cold), a snow suit, hat, gloves and boots. Sunscreen is also a must. ~ Julie

With gear, we always dress our kids in a lot of layers, because it can get quite hot up on the mountain (especially closer to September), but when it’s cold they’ll need jackets, hats, neck warmers, gloves and a mask (check with friends who ski as they might have spare gear lying around, I know we do). Merino is really light and warm and it seems to grow with them, so they wear the same size for years. Definitely warm gloves are a must, and I buy cheaper gloves as extras for when they play in the snow because they get really wet and it’s very handy to have them on hand.~ Aana

Go to H&M Sylvia Park. There were heaps of babies gloves.. shoes and beanies on sale. Gloves for $5! ~ Juliette

Macpac puffer suit, highly recommend ~Tara

I took my 2 year old and he was miserable, he wore waterproof stuff over a layer of warm clothing but got soaked right through, didn’t help I could only find wool gloves for him and that it was raining for a big chunck of the day. He didn’t like that it was hard to walk in the snow and wanted me to carry him, which was hard because I was struggling too ~ Kimberley

We had our own warm/waterproof jackets but hired pants and boots from Ohakune. I definitely recommend that. Don’t use sneakers or gum boots, you get too cold. You can hire toboggans from Ohakune too, that you can use on the free slopes on Turoa. Don’t buy anything unless you think you’ll use it a lot, you can hire anything you need in Ohakune. Much cheaper to hire there than on the mountain.~ Jo

I would either rent or buy a nice one piece suit. It will make such a difference to the experience. Just buy big and it should last you 2 winters. We always had snowsuits and never had an issue reselling them once we grew out of. Also check Trademe ~ Eniko

BabyBanz glasses as goggles for the win ~ Bianca

More Snow Tips And Ideas From Tots to Teens and Travel NZ With Kids:

The Best Snow Holiday Tips For The South Island

An Epic NZ Snow Adventure

Ice And Snow In Tekapo

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