Your first time
Skiing or snowboarding at Whakapapa
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If you're reading this page, you're already off to a great start. Skiing and snowboarding is great fun, and at Whakapapa, you get to do it in one of nature's best adventure playgrounds. With a little preparation, you can ensure your first experience into skiing and snowboarding is a positive one, with more up than down time.

Getting here

Getting to Whakapapa is easier than you think. Whakapapa is an easy drive from main centres of Auckland and Wellington, and most other North Island cities and towns. Depending on the conditions (see our report for the latest), you may choose to drive up the mountain road, and park your vehicle on mountain, or organise a seat in a shuttle with one of the local providers. You do not have to book or pay for a car park, however parks are limited, and filled on a first come first serve basis.

Suitable clothing

Layers are perfect for a day on the maunga, the weather is very changeable and can be sunshine one moment and snowing the next. We suggest wearing a thermal base layer, a warm, waterproof jacket and waterproof pants. Jeans are not suitable for a day on the slopes and will become uncomfortable quickly. We also recommend suitable sturdy waterproof footwear.

Know before you go

Like most sports, there are some rules and points of etiquette 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 Whakapapa we follow the Snow Responsibility Code, a practical guide to ensure the safety and enjoyment of you and your fellow skiers and snowboarders.

Your pass

Your pass (snow card) is your access to Whakapapa. It is loaded with any of your purchases, including ski and snowboard passes, any rental equipment, or any lessons. You can continue to reload the same pass with further purchases. If you have purchased online, your pass can be collected from one of our onsite click and collect machines, already loaded. Keep your pass on you at all times, ideally in your jacket pocket and scan it at the gates to access different parts of the ski area, terrain, and lifts.

On arrival

Whakapapa ski area offer storage facilities where you can securely leave items while enjoying your day on the maunga. Storage costs $10 per day and items can be accessed as many times as you like. Self-service lockers are available in Happy Valley within the Rentals area.

Setting out

Whether you're first time skiing or snowboarding at Whakapapa, or first time skiing or snowboarding ever, we recommend you familiarise yourself with the maunga, starting first in our dedicated beginner area - Happy Valley. Long, gentle slope, and a premier beginner facility, afford the space to get the hang of turning and stopping at your own pace.

Progressing upward

Before venturing beyond Happy Valley, make sure to familiarise yourself with our terrain map and in particular the international colour coding system used to demonstrate the steepness of a slope and level of difficulty. 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.

Our access lifts

Green runs typically have slow-moving lifts for you to learn on. The staff are more attentive, and on hand to assist if you run into any issues. At Whakapapa, these lifts include magic carpets (a flat standing lift), and platter lift (a mechanical pull system to pull riders uphill, along the slope), and chairlifts. The lifts to blue, black, and double black terrain, generally run a lot faster (up to twice as fast) so be prepared to get on and off quickly. At Whaakapapa, these lifts include chairlifts and t-bars (a t-shaped bar against which two riders lean and are pulled uphill, along the slope).

Rent your equipment

While excited to start a new sport, try and resist the temptation to go out and buy the latest shiny equipment. With rentals, you can try skiing and snowboarding before commiting to spending what can be quite a large outlay on new equipment. You can also get a feel for what you do and don't like.

Learn from the professionals

Lessons are a great introduction to the sports of skiing and snowboarding, and a great opportunity to work on specific techniques, on your journey to becoming a more competent rider. We have qualified instructors to introduce you to the sports, in both private and group lesson settings.

Take the pressure off

We hope that your first time at Whakapapa spurs a life long connection with the maunga and sports of skiing and snowboarding. That said, there is no rush! Many new skiers and snowboarders have a tendency to push themselves too hard, too fast. Taking your time to build your confidence and technique, will result in a much more enjoyable experience. If you do injure yourself, our on mountain medical centre provides quality medical care for any injury or unforeseen medical event.

Skiing or snowboarding not for you?

You don't have to ski or snowboard to experience all that winter has to offer at Whakapapa. If you decide that skiing and snowboarding just aren't for you, check out our dedicated sledding areas, and sightseeing on board the Sky Waka gondola.

Mauri tū mauri ora
An active soul is a healthy soul