Know your limits
Health and safety

Mt Ruapehu is a special place. Standing 2797m at its highest, it's the tallest peak in the North Island. At Whakapapa, the terrain is naturally formed by volcanic activity, making it vast and diverse.

In winter, we traditionally see a base of upwards of 1m from August, with snow filling the gullies and rocky crevasses. While all this combines to make for some of the best free ride terrain in the Southern Hemisphere, this page is designed to inform you of all the risks associated with visiting Whakapapa, and provide you the information needed to stay safe and enjoy your time on the maunga.

Plan your trip

It's important to make sure you are prepared for the alpine environment here at Mt Ruapehu. Use this simple and easy tool to plan your trip and find a recommended equipment list. If you are planning to access the maunga outside of our operating hours and area, the below guide is designed to help ensure your safety and that of our team.

Snow responsibility code

Like most sports, there are some rules and points of ettiquette to bear in mind when it comes to skiing and snowboarding. These are largely common sense and good manners, but something worth researching ahead of your first trip to the maunga.

At Mt Ruapehu we follow the Snow Responsibility Code, a practical guide to ensure the safety and enjoyment of you and your fellow skiers and snowboarders.

Road safety

The Ohakune Mountain Road and Bruce Road are the two tar-sealed roads that give you access to the ski areas. Typical of alpine roads, they can, at any time of the year, become snowy and icy. Our report presents the latest on road status and conditions, including whether the road is open or closed, and whether 4WD and / or chains are required. So be aware, have your headlights on, and drive to the conditions.

Reporting an incident
If you or a fellow guest has an accident on the slopes, or wants to notify patrollers of an incident, make sure to 1. keep safe, 2. mark the site (e.g. crossed skis), and 3. raise an alarm, sending someone to the nearest lift to ask for ski patrol.
If you become lost
If you become lost on the slopes or you have lost a friend, follow these important steps to get help: Stop moving and take note of your surroundings - look for any features or landmarks. Call 111 and ask for police. They can track your location from your mobile phone. If you are looking for someone, go to the nearest lift or Guest Relations and advise a staff member.
Tips to navigate alpine conditions
There are some key tips to make your journey on alpine roads a safer and more straight forward one. Do your reading before you set out and make sure you have sufficient supplies in the car and enough fuel in your road worthy vehicle.

On mountain medical centres

If your day up the mountain doesn't end quite how you thought, and you find yourself experiencing a medical issue or injury, both Tūroa and Whakapapa have medical centres where you can head to for assistance. We provide emergency care and medical treatment at both Whakapapa and Tūroa ski areas, and have experienced doctors, nurses, and radiographers on site.

Trail safety

It is important to ride to your ability and follow any on mountain signage. At Mt Ruapehu we use the international colour coding system to demonstrate the steepness of a slope and level of difficulty, and mark trails with signs. Green is an easy shallow and wide slope for beginners. Blue is for intermediate skiers who can turn on steeper, faster gradients. Black or double black are for expert skiers, who can handle very steep, uneven gradients.

Trail signage

Signage is used to highlight dangers (including concealed cliffs), cautions (including where conditions are marginal or trails merge), and areas to keep out of as they are either closed, hazardous, or outside of the ski area boundary. Our safety services teams assess the slopes and adjust signgage every morning and on a regular basis throughout the day. Make sure to follow the latest in signage advice and request.

Avalanche safety

While we love snow, and lots of it, it has it's own risks that need to be recognised and respected. Avalanches can move quickly and suddenly, causing great risk to people and infrastructure. It is important then that you understand what we do to keep you safe when on mountain. Follow the link below to watch what we do to negate this risk.

Volcanic risk

Mt Ruapehu is unique in the fact that it is an active volcano. While this makes for an awesome riding experience, it does bring its risks. In order to manage these risks, we have a number of systems in place. The Eruption Detection System (EDS) is operated by DOC and provides an alarm system to both ski areas including audible alarms in high risk zones, radio tones direct to staff two-way radios and text messages to ski area management.

For this system to work well on the day, it needs you to respond when you hear the alarm by moving to high ground! This means moving out of the valleys and onto the ridges as quickly as you can.

Kia takatu for our mighty maunga