Mt Ruapehu Crater Climb

Ruhapehu Crater Lake

We climbed Mt Ruapehu on Saturday.

Mt Ruapehu is a 2797m active volcano. It is the largest mountain on the North Island, and one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Nonetheless on a clear day, climbing the mountain isn’t too difficult (compared with the Tongariro Crossing), and very dramatic.

It’s a good day-walk with breathtaking views of Mt Ngauruhoe and the central plateau. There are also plenty signs of volcanic activity along the way, with fresh-looking ash beneath your feet and sulphur smells adding to a sense of adventure and excitement.

However, because of weather variability, the crater climb can’t really be planned more than 1 -2 days in advance. Metservice has an excellent page for the mountain forecast in the area, and with recent eruptions it would also pay to check with DOC on the mountain safety level prior to traveling there.

Waterfall Ski-LiftThe most common route to the summit, is to start from the ski-field at Whakapapa. From there it is possible to take the chair-lift up to the cafe. The chair-lifts run from 9am to 3.30pm daily throughout summer and cost $20. (Note, if the chair-lifts are not running, it’s generally a good indication to not attempt to climb the mountain).

Setting out from the cafe (also open daily) at the top of the chair lifts, it’s a 5 – 6 hour return trip to the summit. Add an extra 2 hours if choosing to walk directly from the car park (and thereby saving $20).

Wrong TurnThe track is unmarked, so a map is essential. There is really only one path up to the summit, and a wrong turn can be challenging (as we found out). Nonetheless, following the recommended path, it’s relatively easy. While there are isolated patches of snow in late summer, these aren’t on the track.

Mt Ruapehu is an approximate 5 hour drive from Auckland (assuming no traffic woes).

Rugged TrampersWe drove down to Ohakune on Friday night, and stayed in the Mountain View Motel ($90 per night for a 1 bedroom and studio unit for 3 people). From Ohakune it is a 30 minute drive to the Whakpapa ski-field.

We stayed two nights, opting to enjoy a much deserved beer and some quality Ohakune pub food on Saturday night, rather than driving back north.

More photos can be found here. Dave has an informative post about the walk here.

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2 Responses to Mt Ruapehu Crater Climb

  1. Jorge Marreiros says:

    I found your post very interesting and with great photos!

    I have the idea to climb this volcano next May. Should I expect much snow/ice?… Will the chair lift system be open?

    Well… I would much appreciate some tips about it…

    In fact, I’m going from Portugal to visit your fantastic country and I have the idea to climb some mountains…

    Thank you!! Bye. :))

  2. michelle says:

    Hi there,

    Yes, there will be snow in May. How much, is difficult to say, and it really depends on the seasonal changes. However, you would probably still require cramp-ons and ice-axes to climb it.

    The chair-lifts run all year round.

    I would recommend getting in contact with DOC at the visitor’s information centre at Whakapapa village. They will be able to advise on snow/ice conditions closer to the date. Their details are available here:

    Good luck!

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