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August 2013 Issue
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A perfect day in Ohakune

Waitonga Falls is the highest waterfall in Tongariro National Park. Photo: Supplied

Ohakune is the southern gateway to the Tongariro National Park, offers easy access to the Turoa ski field and is home of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Way. In other words, it’s the ideal base for outdoor adventures. Local Darren Gamble, owner of the Mountain Bike Station, Ski and Board Station and Station Lodge, loves exploring park and recommends this perfect day.

0730 Get up early for a big breakfast at The Mountain Rocks.

0830 Grab the mountain bikes and head out for a ride on the 15km (one-way) Ohakune Old Coach Road. Passing through native podocarp forest in Tongariro National Park, the trail also has a fascinating history dating back more than 100 years. The viaducts are a must see and the tunnel a must do.

1030 If you’ve still got some spring in your legs, try riding the new Pump Track near the Junction – right where the Old Coach Road begins / ends. It’s easy – my three-year-old son loves it.

1100 Grab an early lunch at OCR (their Fish and Chips are the best)

1200 Pack your ski touring gear and drive 25min up the Ohakune Mountain Rd to the Turoa car park.

1245 Take the chair to the top of High Noon Express and skin west and up to the saddle between Paretetaitonga and Tahurangi.

1530 Check out Crater Lake and the several peaks of Mt Ruapehu – there’ll be no one else around – before skiing back down to the car park through fresh untracked snow.

1730 Enjoy the sunset from the emptied out car park then head down the mountain for a well-deserved drink and burger at the Powder Keg.

Two hours

Walking or trail running the Waitonga Falls Track is a popular activity. Waitonga Falls are the highest waterfall in Tongariro National Park. Expect to take 1.5hr for the return trip. If you run it, carry on past the falls on the Round The  Mountain Track and take the left hand turn up to the Old Blyth Hut where your efforts will be rewarded with amazing views over the central Plateau.

Four hours

Lake Surprise is a hidden gem that not many people tackle. It is off The Ohakune Mountain Rd at the 16km mark on the left. The steep track leads down the middle of cascading waterfalls which are unique and mesmerising. Lots of people stop at Mangaturuturu Hut, have a bit to eat and then walk back, but those who are keen and take on the climb to Lake Surprise are rewarded with spectacular views of Mt Ruapehu.