Visitor reviews for Whakapapa Ski Resort

Whakapapa Ratings

Overall: 3.3. Based on 39 votes and 54 reviews. Vote

Snowsure: 3.1

(1) Occasionally gets enough snow for skiing, (2) is often closed due to a lack of snow, (3) occasionally suffers from a lack of snow, (4) rarely suffers from a lack of snow, (5) Whakapapa is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.

Variety of pistes: 3.9

(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Whakapapa has diverse and interesting pistes including forests and high alpine terrain.

Off-piste: 4.1

(1) No off-piste worth mentioning, (2) off piste is out-of-bounds, (3) some varied offpiste that stays fresh for one or two days, (5) a vast array of off-piste routes that can stay untracked for several days.

Scenery: 4.2

(1) An ugly resort in a bland setting, (3) average mountain views and resort, (5) a spectacular setting and a beautiful / historic resort town.

Access: 3.4

(1) At least one overnight stop, (2) requires a whole day, (3) requires more than half a day – you may have time for a few turns (4) arrive by lunchtime and ski all afternoon, (5) there is a main airport within an hour of Whakapapa.

Public Transport: 3.1

(1) There are no buses or taxis to Whakapapa, (3) there are slow or infrequent buses / trains available, (5) getting to the resort is easy with frequent bus / train connections.

Accommodation: 3.5

(1) No places to stay in/near Whakapapa, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.

Cheap Rooms: 3.4

(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.

Luxury Hotels: 3.5

(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Whakapapa.

Ski in/Ski out: 3.2

(1) The ski area is located far from any accommodation, (3) a free ski bus takes you to the ski area in a short trip, (5) Ski-in ski-out accommodation is available.

Childcare: 2.7

(1) There are no child care facilities at Whakapapa, (5) the resort has excellent child-care facilities including at least one reasonably priced creche.

Snowmaking: 3.4

(1) Whakapapa relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.

Snow Grooming: 3.6

(1) There are no snow groomers at Whakapapa, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Whakapapa are groomed daily.

Shelter: 2.1

(1) there is nowhere to ski when it is windy or visibility is bad and lifts often shut, (3) there are some trees for poor visibility but main lifts sometimes close, (5) Whakapapa is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.

Nearby options: 2.7

(1) If snow conditions are poor at Whakapapa, it will be poor everywhere nearby, (3) there are good alternatives within an hours drive, (5) other locations on the same lift pass provide a rich variety of snowsure ski conditions.

Regional rating: 3.6

(1) Whakapapa usually has poor snow conditions compared to other resorts in region, (3) has average conditions for the region, (5) usually has the best snow conditions in the region.

Lift Staff: 3.6

(1) The staff at Whakapapa are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Whakapapa are pleasant, cheerful and eager to help.

Crowds/Queues: 2.9

(1) the resort is always busy and there are usually long lift queues, (3) it is quiet apart from occasional weekends and school holidays, (5) it is uncrowded and lift queues are very rare.

Ski Schools: 4.2

(1) No ski schools available, (2) one or two ski schools but local language only, (3) a few ski schools but book early for multi-lingual instructors, (4) plenty of ski schools and multi-lingual instructors available, (5) excellent ski schools with friendly multi-lingual ski instructors.

Hire and Repairs: 3.9

(1) Nothing can be sourced, not even ski-wax or ptex. (3) there are some ski shops but rentals need to be booked in advance, (5) good quality ski equipment can be purchased or hired and overnight repairs are possible.

Beginners: 3.5

(1) Beginners can only watch others ski and snowboard, (3) a few gentle slopes but beginners will get bored in less than a week, (3) Vast areas of gentle terrain.

Intermediates: 4.0

(1) No intermediate terrain at Whakapapa, (3) intermediate skiers will get bored after a few days, (5) vast areas of cruising runs.

Advanced: 4.4

(1) Nothing for advanced skiers and snowboarders, (3) enough steep terrain for a few days with some good offpiste, (5) Enough steep terrain and offpiste areas to entertain advanced skiers for at least a week.

Snow Park: 2.8

(1) Not even a kicker at Whakapapa, (3) average sized park quite well looked after, (5) huge park area and expertly crafted pipes, jumps and boardercross trails.

Cross-country: 2.5

(1) There is nowhere to go for cross-country skiing around Whakapapa, (3) there are some cross country trails available, (5) the area features many spectacular and well maintained cross-country trails.

Luge/Toboggan: 2.6

(1) No designated luge or toboggan runs, (3) there are toboggan runs that open quite often, (5) Whakapapa has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.

Mountain Dining: 3.2

(1) Nowhere to buy food by the pistes, (3) some places to eat up on the mountain but they are often busy and expensive, (5) there is a variety of excellent mountain eateries right next to the slopes to suit all budgets.

Eating: 3.1

(1) Bring your own food, there isn't even a shop. (5) A wide variety of places to eat and drink in the resort, from fast food to fancy restaurants.

Apres-Ski: 2.6

(1) Nothing to do, not even a bar, (3) there are a few bars in the resort but nothing special, (5) clubs and bars stay open until very late and have a friendly atmosphere.

Other Sports: 1.8

(1) No sports facilities at all apart from ski lifts, (3) resort has just a small public swimming pool, (5) resort has all kinds of sports facilities, including a full-size swimming pool.

Entertainment: 2.7

(1) Besides the snow and walking there is nothing to do here, (3) the non-skier will find things to do for few days but may become bored after a week, (5) the resort area is a fascinating place to visit, regardless of winter sports.

Winter Walks: 3.4

(1) Very limited walking and no snowshoe trails, (3) a couple of designated scenic walking/snowshoe trails, (5) extensive and diverse winter walking trails for all abilities.

Ski Pass Value: 2.8

(1) A 1 week ski pass is overpriced compared to the number of lifts available, (3) the ski pass is averagely priced and covers a reasonable number of lifts, (5) ski passes are excellent value for money and cover a lot of lifts spanning a big area.

Value (National): 3.5

(1) Overall, Whakapapa is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country and not worth the money, (3) overall represents average value for money, (5) overall offers the best value resort in the country.

Value (Global): 3.2

(1) Overall, Whakapapa is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world, (3) overall it offers pretty average value for money compared to resorts from other countries, (5) internationally the resort offers excellent value for money.

Show all 35 ratings

September 24, 2009
Zoltan from Ski United Kingdom United Kingdom
Whakapapa is badly let down by the poor lift system. There is only one good lift in the whole place and the queues at weekends can be huge. The two 2-seater lifts to get you up the lower mountain are the slowest lifts I have been on and the queues are a complete joke at times. There is not much you can do about the weather that makes the place very unreliable and almost sheet ice. But the place could invest and do something with the lifts. Europe in the 60's had better lifts. Get a nice day and the place is stunning. Blue skies are common, but expect high winds to be a problem. The beginners area at Whakapapa is better than Turoa but still gets really busy. If I had a choice, I would always go Turoa before Whakapapa. It's about 45 minutes drive away but worth it.
September 15, 2009
Damian from Ski Ireland Ireland
On a recent trip we skied both Whakapapa and Turoa. To my mind, if you get the right weather conditions, Mt. Ruapehu offers the best skiing in New Zealand. New Zealand's maritime climate makes for changeable weather conditions. If you are very time constrained I would recommend the South Island ski fields where the weather is more reliable but the skiing is not as good. With a little more time to spend, then on their day Whakapapa and Turoa are, in my opinion, up there with the best for on and off-piste skiing. The next nearest comparable groomed ski field is in Japan or North America which isn't exactly round the corner. (NB: The South Island off-piste skiing is equal to the best in the world, but the good stuff is incredibly hard to get to). We had spring skiing conditions that meant soft snow lower down and a little crusty higher up. Good for the time of year. Some of the lifts are old and slow which can be an issue if it's very busy. That said, the new 6 seater at Turoa is world class. The high speed quad at Whakapapa is great but the field would benefit greatly with a chair to access the very highest slopes. The reliance on T-bars does a mountain of this quality a dis-service. The facilities are ok, though in their defense, the main on-mountain restaurant at Whakapapa was destroyed in a fire earlier this year so that has put pressure on the other cafes and restaurants to take up the slack. The builders were there when we were there. The plan, we were told, is to rebuild a state of the art on-mountain restaurant in the New Zealand 2009/10 summer. This is a great mountain for beginners and experts alike. It would be truly fantastic with a new lift or two at Whakapapa. Highly recommended.
August 30, 2009
Sarah from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
We went to Whakapapa for the first time with 2 small children. The cost was reasonable, snow was great, ski school was great and the kids loved every minute of the experience. Mum even got a few runs in. Lower lifts were a bit slow though and hopefully they will improve this. The restaurants at Whakapapa were very busy on the weekend - expected though, but perhaps they will improve this by building a larger facility. Well worth the 3 hour drive to get there and can't wait to get back, will be watching the snow report closely.
July 30, 2009
Richard from Ski Australia Australia
I was born in NZ but have been living abroad for the past 15-years and have been lucky enough to ski a lot in the Northern Hemisphere. Whilst I agree that the mountain, when the weather is good, is very hard to beat lets inject a dose of reality into the debate. 1. The weather is VERY unpredictable. This is a mountain that rises out of a desert plain. Accordingly, it is very exposed to the wind. Mountain closures are frequent and the upper mountain is particularly susceptible to closure. 2. The lifts are old and slow. The problem with this is that they are susceptible to the wind. If it is blowing more than 40mph it is almost certain they will not open the upper mountain, regardless of weather. If the weather looks a bit dodgy, only buy a lower mountain pass in the morning as you can always upgrade it later in the day. If you go for a full mountain pass there are no refunds if you can't use it. 3. Bulk of the grooming is done in the morning and the de-icing seems to take forever, so you'll be lucky to hit the upper mountain earlier than 10.30-11.00am. Seems to be no urgency to get the upper mountain open in the morning. 4. Equipment hire on the mountain is average and if you are a good but ocassional skier and like to use 'executive' or 'demo' rentals forget it. My advice is get your gear before you come to the mountain or there are a few good places in Ohakune. 5. The food on the mountain is poor and expensive and space is limited. Accordingly, bring a packed lunch and avoid the traditional 12-2pm lunch break if you want to sit down. 6. I would give terrain a 7 out of 10. It would get a higher rating but the runs aren't all that long - particularly the challenging runs. Overall this is not a bad mountain but the experience can be really dragged down by the unpredictability of the weather and poor on-snow activities (cafe, hire, grooming, lifts). If you're stuck in the North Island, then this is the place for you but give yourself a week and plan for some down time. If you have the ability to get to the South Island then my advice is do it and give Ruapehu a miss.
August 29, 2008
Olly from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
I think you will find that every 5 years or so, you can ski to the Chateau, I did it about 2 weeks ago. What Whakapapa does offer is some pretty intense terrain, if you have the skills and knowledge to ski it. I have skied in many places across the world, and even though it may not as good as many of those resorts, in my mind, Whakapapa is the best resort in New Zealand (on its day) Treble Cone has amazing snow, but over the last few years I have had several powder (actual powder) days that would better TC, with the advantage of much more terrain. You are right about the 1m to cover the rocks, but its been 3 years since we haven't had enough, ever heard of weather cycles? Hear about how bad the season was on the east coast of the states last year? I encourage you to go skiing soon, it's insane down there. [Comment by editor: the part of this review that contained sensitive text, directed to an individual, has now been removed]
August 18, 2008
Stu from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
I note Darryl's comment about skiing to the Chateau. I remember doing that on occasion in the past too. I also remember skiing at Christmas and New Year. And I remember digging the cars out at the top of the Bruce in the morning, then another front coming through and having to dig them out again in the afternoon so they didn't get graded (70's). Whakapapa is great for a challenge and variety - just gets a bit crowded at times, so I try to avoid those times.
August 14, 2008
TiM from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
At the moment there is heaps of snow at Whak (2.9 mts) and whoever wrote the one saying that it needs 1.3 mts of snow is wrong. I did a full run with 1 meter of snow on and that was fine. 2yrs ago me and my bro skied top to bottom and I was only 11yrs and he was only 9yrs
August 10, 2008
darryl from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
It's interesting what Vivienne had to write about top of the mountain to Chateau skiing. It would appear she has not spent many years at Whakapapa. I have spent 30yrs this yr skiing at Whakapapa and have done a top to bottom, gone to the tavern, had a few drinks and then caught the then Mountain Goats back up. It the big dump of the 90's the young kids in our ski club skied to the Chateau using the cars coming up as a slalom course. This skiing has not been down for a while due to the lack of snow, however it can be done. Whilst Whakapapa can be unpredictable, it is a very technical mountain to ski and having skied a large number of ski fields worldwide, you will see the evidence of your ability at these fields. Most ski instructors will tell you, "if you can ski Whakapapa, you can ski anywhere in the world" And as mentioned, the mountain is magic when the sun is out and the snow is perfect,it can't be beaten.
August 07, 2008
David from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
This season is the first season that I have ever been down to the South Island and to be completely honest with you Whakapapa measures up well. If you're from Auckland and wanting to go skiing go to Whaka and save a heap of $$$$$. It's good that they have the Knol ridge and Far West cafes because that means that you don't have to go all the way to the base area to rest up re fuel or "De Fuel". The field does get very busy especially if Far West isn't open but a good rule to follow is if it's busy at the Waterfall go out west. If it's busy out west go to the Waterfall. Out west is the high light of the field and offers rolling natural big mountain terrain which is super fun on a powder day. Rock Garden is always busy so be prepared. Upper Mountain pass is always the way to go.
August 06, 2008
shaun from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
Went to Whakapapa on Tues 16 August and what a day! Heaps of snow no q,s and awesome conditions! one of the best days ever!