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What to see and do in the Ruapehu Region

This King Country location, within the Tongariro National Park ward, is in the very heart of the magnificent Ruapehu Region … the outdoor capital of the NZ’s North Island!

The property’s location feels like it’s in a tiny village town, but it is actually in the hub of the Ruapehu District’s National Park ward, straddling the Tongariro State Forest Park. Owhango town lies on the 39th Parallel South “Circle of Latitude”, and is a mecca for walking, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, trout fishing, hunting, horse trekking, canoeing, tramping, 4WD tracks, jet-boating the Te Aroroa Trail, mountain-running, plus cycle trails and some hardcore mountain-biking.

It is a close proximity to many hiking and walking trails (that take 5 mins to 5 days) among the Whanganui and Tongariro National Parks, featuring breathtaking scenery. Tongariro is NZ’s oldest national park, and a World Heritage site. Owhango town is also located approximately half-way between Auckland (in the north coast) and Wellington (in the south coast), and about half-way between New Plymouth (in the west coast) and Napier (in the east coast).

We’re the middle of the middle, so to speak.

Our Location

Quaint Owhango Village is in the heart of the southern King Country, which is part of the National Park Ward of the Ruapehu District … with its location known as “Basecamp to the Ruapehu Region!”

  • Endpoint for the 42 Traverse trail including the 42 Traverse selfie-wall located next to the Post Office’s garage (start point of the trail 25-min drive)
  • 1-min walk to fab Blue Hill Cafe & Ruapehu Shuttles HQ
  • 5-min walk to pretty Ohinetonga Trail (Tongariro Conservation park) & world-class trout fly-fishing at the Whakapapa River
  • 10-min drive to Blazing Adventures HQ (canoeing, jet-boating, fishing & more)
  • 10-15 min drive to the historic Kakahi General Store and Kakahi glow-worms (can be seasonal)
  • 15-mins south of Taumarunui Town (incl New World Supermarket & Forgotten World Adventures HQ)
  • 15-mins north of National Park Village (incl superette, cafes, pubs, restaurants, Fisher Track, Marton Sash & Door Tramway trail)
  • 25-mins north-west of Chateau Tongariro & Whakapapa Village (another 5-10 mins drive up the Bruce Rd on Mt Ruapehu to the Whakapapa Ski Field and the Sky Waka Gondola)
  • 30-mins south of the Timber Trail’s shuttles HQ
  • 30-mins north of Horopito (Smash Palace, Old Coach Road trail, Tohunga Junction, Ruatiti Valley trail)
  • 30-mins to Laurens Lavender Farm with Cafe & 30-mins to the super cute Nevelea Alpacas
  • 35-40 mins drive to start & end of the legendary Tongariro Alpine Crossing trek (Ruapehu Shuttle’s can do drop-off & pick-up)
  • 40-mins north of pretty Ohakune Village with its lots of interesting shops (and the giant carrot kids playground).
  • 50-mins west of Turangi Town (on the banks of the Tongariro River)
  • 60-mins north of Turoa Ski Field on Mt Ruapehu
  • 60-mins north-west of Waiouru & the excellent National Army Museum
  • 50-60-mins west of southern Lake Taupo
  • 75-mins north of Whanganui River Adventures HQ in Pipiriki (start point for tours to the extraordinary Bridge to Nowhere)
  • 90-mins south-west of the major lakefront town of Taupo (also location of the nearest domestic airport)

Getting Around

Having your own transport is pretty critical – plus the local Ruapehu Shuttles (located 1-min away) can sort any one-way drop-offs or pick-ups you need to enjoy the local trails.

Walking

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing 1-day track is one of the most popular “great walks” of NZ, which passes over Mt Tongariro, and around Mt Ngaruahoe.

Other local walking tracks include: 1-day Tama Lakes trail, 2-day 42nd Traverse trail, and even the amazing Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake trail. 

Half-hour to Mt Ruapehu skiing

We’re about half-hour drive to the Whakapapa ski-field carpark (and on another side of Mt Ruapehu is the Turoa ski-field). These are NZ’s two largest ski areas.

Cycling

Many cycle trails including the National Cycleway, Mountains to Sea cycleway, The Timber Trail, Fishers Track and more.

World-class wilderness fishing

Fly fishing trips plus jet-boat shuttles available for walkers and mountain bikers. Ruapehu and surrounding areas boast world class wilderness fishing, with Whakapapa River, the largest tributary of the Whanganui River and one of NZ’s finest trout fisheries, just minutes from the accommodation.

Red deer hunting

Tongariro National Park and Rangataua Forest offers great hunting primarily for Red Deer with localised Sika populations. There is also pig and goat hunting year round.

Fun at the iconic Post Office Lodge!

If getting away for just a couple of nights, we recommend chillaxing the first night, maybe toasting s’mores around the fire-pit. Then on the second night get your glam on, to enjoy your own Great Gatsby evening or Murder Mystery night!

And more . . .

Photo sources: Paul Abbitt, Camilla Rutherford, Tourism New Zealand, Miles Holden, Chris Sarsgard, Bradley Dunn, Benjamin Raffetseder, Matt Hatchett, ShakyIsles, Wikimedia Commons

42 at 42

Enjoy 42 Owhango Rd after the 42 Traverse!

For everyone experiencing the 42 Traverse in the nearby Tongariro Forest Conservation Area, we recommend afterwards relaxing in our gorgeous Finnish sauna cabin and wonderful Hot-tub spa-pool, then sitting around the fire-pit sipping hot mulled wine and toasting marshmallows to make s’mores!

But, if you can’t stay at the Old Post Office Lodge, still do stop for a Selfie at our 42 Traverse Wall!

(Wall created by community locals from repurposing the old Post Office roofing iron, and chimney stacks, and kitchen hearth bricks – along with saving some old bikes and old skis being thrown away.)

What people are saying

Popular Activities in the Region:

SHUTTLES: Ruapehu Scenic Shuttles are a few doors from us, and operate one-way and two-way pick-ups and drop-offs (for both trek walkers and trail mountain-bikers)

OHINETONGA TRACK: Starting just a few mins walk away from our accom, this 3.8km loop trail through the Tongariro Forest Conservation Area includes good places for picnics and swimming – a good option with kids.

42 TRAVERSE: 46km multi-use trail and one of the most challenging 4-7hr mountain-biking tracks in the North Island, which explores the Tongariro Forest Conservation Area. Track starts at the end of Kapoors Rd, and the trail ends practically at our doorstep. (4WD not permitted 1May-30Nov.) Reminder at the end to stop at the 42 Traverse Selfie-Wall next to our Old Post Office Lodge.

OLD COACH ROAD: 15km one-way through Tongariro National Park, this easy 4½hr walk (or 2½hr cycle) is along the historic cobblestone road that connected the north and south rail journeys with horse-drawn coaches until in 1908 the two railheads were finally linked. We recommend getting a shuttle to the Horopito end for a one-way mostly down-hill gradient and allowing 5-hours one-way to stop for lunch. Or for a bigger challenge, go there and back from Ohakune.

TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING: This spectacular Great Walk is a challenging 20km 7-9hr tramp that treks Nov-May across a remarkable volcanic alpine landscape of dramatic contrasts (June-Oct alpine snow & ice skills critical). Bookings essential. TAMA LAKES is a popular 5-6hr 17km alternative.

TONGARIRO GUIDED WALKS: There are several options from 2-hour sunset walks to inexpensive 3-hour self-guided audio tours.

SKY WAKA GONDOLA: Majestic views on Mt Ruapehu and neighbouring Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro. Departs year-round from Whakapapa Ski Field (past Whakapapa Village).

THE MIGHTY WHANGANUI: Lots of different ways to experience NZ’s longest navigable river – a wild untouched wonderland. Jetboating, kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle-boarding, white-water rafting, and fly-fishing are especially popular.

FORGOTTEN WORLD ADVENTURES: Many fantastic self-drive rail-cart tour options along this decommissioned railway line, including untold tunnels and off-the-grid back-country ghost towns.

TIMBER TRAIL, Pureora Forest Park. 85km 2-day ride Pureora to Ongarue, or 1-day 44km from Piropiro to Ongarue including abundant bird life and amazing suspension bridges. Regarded as one of NZ’s 22 Great Rides.

BRIDGE TO NOWHERE: Jetboat or canoe to Mangapurura then an easy 40-min walk, or ride from Whakahoro or Ruatiti. A place you’ll never forget.

SKIING & SNOWBOARDING RUAPEHU: WHAKAPAPA & HAPPY VALLEY being NZ’s largest ski-field, with Whakapapa Village just 25mins away from our accom, and TUROA ski-field just one hour away including unparalleled views and NZ’s longest vertical descent run.

LOTS OF OTHER DAY WALKS, HIKES & BIKE RIDES: From short family-friendly to challenging, especially popular are Taranaki Falls, Tawhai Falls, Waitonga Falls, Lake Surprise, Silica Rapids, Sky Waka skyline, downhill Fishers Track, Marton-Sash & Door-Tramway loop, Lake Rotopounamu, Whakapapa Nature Walk, Te Porere Redoubt, Mangawhero River, Mangawhero Forest, Waitonga Falls Track, Jubilee Walkway, Makotuku River, Lakes Reserve, and of course the ultimate Nga Ara Tuhono (Mountains to Sea). Plus half-dozen difference walks avail through the enchanting PUREORA FOREST (just 75mins from our accom).

& MORE: Nevalea Alpaca Farm (with year-round baby alpacas) also offers alpaca treks. HORSE TREKKING available at Blue Duck Station, Retaruke Country Estate and Ruapehu Homestead. INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING great for a rainy day at Backpackers in National Park Village, and Vertigo in Ohakune Village. GOLF at Waimarino, Tarrangower, Chateau or Taumarunui courses. 4WD the ruggedly diverse alpine landscape. Ruapehu District’s world-class HUNTING (wild goat, turkey, pig, red stag and fallow deer), plus the Roar (rutting late March to late April). World-class trout FLY-FISHING. National Army MUSEUM in Waiouru. Lauren’s LAVENDER FARM is perfect for morning or afternoon tea. And those that remember the old movie Good Bye Pork Pie you can visit the original Smash Palace at Horopito Wreckers (also featured in Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople).

EXTRA FACILITIES: And remember for after all these busy physical activities, The Old Post Office Lodge amenities include a Finnish sauna cabin, hot-tub Spa-pool, Drying Room cupboard, two clothes dryers, Gun Vault (with ammunition safe), and lockable storage in our Garage with bike stands, powerpoints for your e-bikes, small work-bench and garden hose.

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