Sky waka hero

Ride Sky Waka


New Zealand’s most unique gondola experience. Situated within the UNESCO dual world heritage Tongariro National Park, Sky Waka travels 1.8kms through one of the North Island’s most rugged and spectacular landscapes on Whakapapa, Mt Ruapehu.

Return Sightseeing Gondola Ride

Journey through the clouds on a return trip (one ride up, one ride down) on the Sky Waka to the Knoll Ridge Chalet.

What's a Waka

A symbol of the future, bringing People Together

The waka, celebrated by name in song and story by Māori poets and orators, we know it to be more than a voyaging canoe, more than a carrier of people – the waka carries whanau (family). All Māori, after all, have lineal ties with the chiefs of the great waka.

As the highest and longest gondola upon Te Ika a Maui (North Island), this is more than a machine. It is a vessel to bring people together, to elevate them, together, upon this great maunga (mountain). It is a thread, weaving earth and sky.

We celebrate the waka and its symbolism of interconnectedness between the past, the present and future. For this is surely a symbol of the future, ascending this ancient maunga.

World Heritage - A Global Park

Unesco World Heritage Site

Established in 1887, Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area. Situated in the middle of the North Island, the park is centred upon three volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. The dual World Heritage status recognises its Māori cultural significance as well as its outstanding volcanic features.

The expansive 80,000-hectare park has a diverse range of ecosystems and some of New Zealand’s most dramatic landscapes, showcasing waterfalls, emerald lakes, old lava flows, and colourful silica terraces. From volcanic peaks to lush native bush and rivers, it’s truly a natural wonder.

Maori Culture

Pou - Paretetaitonga

Inside the Knoll Ridge Chalet at the top of Sky Waka, you will find our pou - Paretetaitonga. Pou is a way to remember things of significance: events, people, ancestors. Here’s one of the carvers, Hayz, with his korero about the origin stories of these mountains and this pou.

Activities on Mt Ruapehu

Make Sky Waka part of your adventure

Your exploration of New Zealand isn’t complete until you’ve experienced our ride through the sky on the most advanced gondola in Aotearoa, with floor to ceiling, 360 degrees views. Journey over waterfalls and ancient lava flows and take in the majestic scenery of Mt Ruapehu and it's neighbouring volcanoes, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.


Knoll Ridge Chalet

A Range of Eateries

Travel on the Sky Waka gondola to New Zealand’s highest dining experience, Knoll Ridge Chalet. The multi-storey eatery features something for everyone, from a quick grab and go snack to a brand new menu of contemporary cuisine, all overlooking the wonder that is Tongariro National Park. All menus feature high-quality local produce, including carrots from Horopito and grass-fed Angus beef from Ohakune.

The Pinnacles Restaurant

Ngā Tohu

Savour your meal alongside breath-taking views through floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Pinnacles and the valley below. Enjoy lunch at the highest restaurant in New Zealand at 2,020m above sea level. Also serving Breakfast this Easter weekend only (Saturday 3rd - Sunday 4th April). Bookings essential for this unique experience. Reserve a table in advance and pay on arrival.

The Larder


Soak in the views with fantastic barista coffee in the newly refurbished Pātaka café. Fuel up for your adventures with a quick and tasty grab & go snack or light lunch.

Four Peaks Alley

Grab and Go

A selection of tasty dishes for the perfect quick meal, food truck style. Find the Four Peaks Alley downstairs, an area newly opened to the public. (Peak winter days only)

Sky Waka Gondola & Pinnacles Lunch Combo

12th December 2020 - 2nd May 2021

Buy tickets upon arrival at Whakapapa.

Extend your day of exploration and dine above the clouds at The Pinnacles Restaurant, NZ's highest, at the top of the Sky Waka gondola, 2020m above sea level with a combo ticket.

Combine your Sky Waka ticket with Lunch & save! Dine with us between 11:30am - 1:30pm


Special On Site Purchases

Travel in style with the Sky Waka and treat yourself to lunch at The Pinnacles with our special pass holder rates or upgrade your Sky Waka cabin to our glass bottom option!


Super $19.50 (65+) (ID required)

2021 Season Pass holder $19.50 Adult, $9.50 Youth (Valid pass required)

Life Pass holder $0 (Valid pass required)

Glass Bottom Gondola $40 per cabin


Pinnacles Lunch top up for Season & Life Pass holders:
Adult $20
Youth $16
Infant $10


Experience the volcano in summer for alpine adventures on a variety of Short Walks. Typically available from December - June. Come back in winter and the mountain is transformed with snow. Ski and ride Whakapapa, New Zealand’s largest ski area where the Sky Waka is just one of ten ski lifts to access the expansive terrain.

What to bring

It's important to make sure you are prepared for the alpine environment here at Mt Ruapehu. The first thing to remember is that every trip needs a plan, even a short day walk. Use this simple and easy tool to plan your trip and find a recommended equipment list.

Check our on mountain report for daily weather, summer walks and Sky Waka status.

Opening hours


The Sky Waka is now operating for our summer season, all summer long from 12th December - 2nd May.

Explore The Tongariro National Park on some spectacular short walks or enjoy a delicious Lunch at The Pinnacles Restaurant with enviable views.

The Pinnacles is also serving Breakfast this Easter weekend only (Saturday 3rd - Sunday 4th April). Bookings essential for this unique experience.

The weather can be very changeable on mountain throughout the summer, so bring suitable clothing and footwear and check the on mountain report before traveling!


Planned winter season dates are:
3rd July 2021 - 25th October 2021 for Whakapapa
5th June 2021 - 4th October 2021 for Happy Valley
3rd July 2021 - 25th October 2021 for Turoa
Check out what we have on offer for winter here.