15 August 2023

Family Winter Getaway in Ohakune


We recently enjoyed a weekend winter getaway to the snow. We spent two nights in Ohakune, a beautiful little resort town at the foot of Mount Ruapehu - the largest mountain in the North Island of New Zealand.

It's about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from where we live, so it was a nice little road trip and not too far for a two-year-old that doesn't like to sit still for long.

In this post, I share a few family travel recommendations based on our experience if you're looking at doing a similar trip yourself.

Carrot Adventure Park

As you enter Ohakune you can't miss the Carrot Adventure Park on the left. There is a giant 7.5-metre  carrot that has become quite an icon in New Zealand - it was even recently voted landmark of the year (lol). 

There is also an impressive playground with swings, slides, climbing frames, a flying fox, a space rocket and even a big carrot car. There are also more vegetable friend statues dotted around such as potato, parsnip, swede, and brussel sprouts.

Snow Fun

The main reason we were there was for Miss H to experience snow for the first time. I have been skiing since I was 5 years old and started snowboarding when I was 13, so it was so nice to show my girl one of my favourite places! She had a wonderful time and loved it.

You can hire sleds for $30 for one hour and there is a dedicated sledding area at both Turoa and Whakapapa ski fields. Being on the sounth-end we went to Turoa and it says on the website that there is no snow play area - but there is. Go to the right of the cafe and you'll see the beginner's ski area with the magic carpet. To the side you'll find plenty of space to play, there were lots of families enjoying the snow and building snowmen. Best of all it's free to do that.

There is a big cafe, a shop and toilets. Being on a snow mountain, food is obviously going to be top dollar, so I recommend packing a lunch box for yourself if you want to save some money. 

We didn't want to buy proper snow gear for her as it was a once-off thing, so we just had her wear merino thermal top and pants, then waterproof overalls over the top with gumboots, then a warm puffer jacket she already had, sunnies, a warm hat and mittens. Don't forget to bring and put on sunblock too.



As a side note, I grew up going to Whakapapa and it is by far my favourite ski field - but we didn't want to have to drive a further 45 minutes each way when all we were doing this time was playing in the snow, so Turoa was perfectly fine for that.

If you can, try to avoid weekends and school holidays, as it is so busy and crowded (we couldn't avoid it, unfortunately). However, you can pre-purchase passes online which helps.


There's a great range of accommodation choices in Ohakune, from budget motels to more luxurious hotels, and humble Bed and Breakfasts in between. We stayed at a cute cabin-style B&B called Frankie and Hugh’s which was perfect for families. 

It's in a great location, with amazing breakfast provided, very comfortable three bedrooms (so great for larger families too), a cosy lounge and fireplace, they even had a travel cot and toys.  I very highly recommend it, but they are rightly very popular so you have to book quite well in advance.



We stayed for two nights and I wish it could have been for longer!

Where to Eat

For our first night, we went to The Cyprus Tree which is a great family-friendly restaurant with delicious food. They have high chairs and a whole dedicated play corner filled with toys so you can actually enjoy a pre-dinner drink in peace. I had the mushroom risotto which was very yum.

You can't miss the famous chocolate eclairs from The Chocolate Eclair Shop - they are giant and filled with yummy cream. They also do great pies which is a good option for lunch.

For our second night, we had pre-booked an Italian restaurant Osteria - the number one restaurant recommendation on Trip Advisor. However, we ended up canceling because after a busy (but fun) day at the snow, we felt like getting takeaways instead. We tried out the local fish and chip shop called Captain Kune's. There's not much in the way of reviews online, but they are very good and I would recommend them. We got two burgers, a battered hotdog, and chips and they were yum.

Road Trip with a Toddler Tips

Gone are the days of driving straight there and back - even though our toddler sleeps for a good 2+ hours for her day nap at home, she only slept for two stretches of about 25 minutes throughout the 3.5-hour car ride. So plan for at least a couple of stops to stretch the legs and get some fresh air. 

If you're driving from the south up like we did, Flat Hills Cafe is a good place to stop. It's about 40 minutes north of Bulls, and then it's only one more hour to Ohakune from there. As well as the cafe they have toilets, animals like llamas, a playground, and even a bouncy castle to keep your little ones entertained.

Even if you're sick to death of their favourite music (cough, The Wiggles), listening to it in the car will keep them happy so it's a win-win.

Pack a lunch box with a variety of different snacks and treats to keep your little one happy and interested.

Keep a handful of different toys in reach and rotate them when bored. We had a couple of her favourite stuffed animals, a couple of dolls and a dinosaur pop toy. We avoided books and screens as she does often get car sick.

That was our little winter getaway in a nutshell. It was a really magical experience playing in the snow with my girl, even my husband who hates the snow enjoyed himself, and he especially liked the cosy and comfortable B&B.

Coming soon is a post on another recent family trip we did to Queenstown, and also a Girls Getaway Guide to Melbourne, so stay tuned for those!

Happy Travels,


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