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"Big Carrot" redirects here. Big Carrot was also a pseudonym used by the band T. Rex.
Ōhākune (Māori)
Minor urban area
Main street of Ohakune
Main street of Ohakune
Ohakune is located in New Zealand
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Country New Zealand
Region Manawatu-Wanganui Region
Territorial authority Ruapehu District
Ward Waimarino-Waiouru
Electorate Rangitīkei
 • Mayor Don Cameron
Elevation 590 m (1,940 ft)
Population (June 2015 estimate)[1]
 • Total 1,080
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
Postcode 4625
Telephone 06

Ohakune is a small town in the North Island of New Zealand, situated 215 kilometres north of Wellington and 292 kilometres south of Auckland. It is located at the southern end of the Tongariro National Park, close to the southwestern slopes of the active volcano Mount Ruapehu. Located within the Manawatu-Wanganui region, the town is 70 kilometres northeast of Wanganui and 25 kilometres west of Waiouru.

A rural service town known as New Zealand's Carrot Capital,[2] Ohakune is a popular base in winter for skiers using the ski fields (particularly Turoa) of nearby Mount Ruapehu and in summer for trampers hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.


Historically, the lands to the south and west of Mount Ruapehu were inhabited by the Māori of the Ngāti Rangi iwi.[3] Around the middle of the seventeenth century a marae (village) at Rangataua, a small town about 3 miles south-east of Ohakune, was attacked and the inhabitants were driven from their homes by raiders from the Ngāti Raukawa, an iwi from farther east in Manawatu. Around 75 of the village's population were slain and the dozen or so survivors fled to Mangaorongo and established a on the present site of the town of Ohakune.

In 1883 the first engineering reconnaissance commenced for the Marton – Te Awamutu section of the North Island Main Trunk Railway and a base was established upon the present site of Ohakune, and soon became a permanent camp for railway and road construction workers. Settlement of the town is considered to have commenced in the early 1890s and by March 1908 the railway line had reached Ohakune. The period of railway construction activities was followed quickly by intensive timber milling; as the forest was cleared, cattle and sheep were introduced and farming progressed. Ohakune was constituted a town district in August 1908 and in November 1911 attained borough status.[4]

The meaning of the name Ohakune is obscure.

In 2015, the town received national publicity after schools were placed in lockdown due to the police being shot at and rammed.[5]


Ohakune, the southern gateway to the Tongariro National Park, caters for both summer and winter visitors, and one can find facilities for snow sports, trout fishing, mountain biking, tramping and bushwalking.

The Ruapehu i-SITE Visitor Information Centre[6] is located in the town centre in Clyde Street. The visitor centre is part of New Zealand's official Visitor Information Network and provides a reservation service for local and nationwide accommodation, activities and transport.


Ohakune offers a choice of accommodation from bed and breakfast, backpacker lodges, camping grounds, and motels ranging from budget to luxury.[7]

During the winter ski season accommodation can be booked out so visitors are advised to pre-book.

Bars and Dining

Okakune provides a number of sandwich bars and take-away food outlets, cafes and restaurants. Opening hours are seasonal.

There are numerous licensed premises in Ohakune[8] and some hotels and lodges provide an in-house bar to guests and visitors. During the winter months the area of Ohakune Junction around Thames Street is considered the town's social hub with a range of places to eat and drink, and in the peak skiing season late-night action can be found in some venues, but opening times may be limited outside of weekends.


On the eastern edge of the town there is a large replica of a carrot, known locally as "The Big Carrot". This is reputedly the world's largest model carrot, and was originally constructed as a prop for a television advertisement for the ANZ Bank in the early 1980s. After filming the carrot was donated to Ohakune, in recognition of the area's reputation as the source of a high proportion of New Zealand's carrots, and installed in its current position in 1984.[9]

Ohakune Big Carrot

In the 1980s and 90s Ohakune used to be home to the Weather Rock, a local landmark in Thames Street popular with tourists for photographs; the rock used to "forecast" current weather conditions with a sign listing sayings such as "If rock is hot - sunny", "If rock is wet - raining", etc., and appropriately for the region, "If rock is bouncing - earthquake". The site is currently vacant.

Health and Welfare

In 2015 Ohakune had a dental clinic, pharmacy, fire station, police station, ambulance station, social welfare branch, churches, a marae with a district nurse, gymnasium, and a health shuttle for outpatient care at Wanganui Hospital 110 km away.

The nearest medical centre with GP, nurses and physiotherapist is 11 km to the west, at Raetihi.

Shopping and Services

Ohakune has the usual range of shops and services found within a typical small New Zealand town. In 2015 it had a supermarket, dairies, post shop, book shop, bank, eftpos machines, service station, garage, 2nd hand car yard, hardware and horticulture supplies, engineering shops, crane hire, surveyors, draftsman, whiteware shop, novelty shop, bottle store, travel agent, weekly newspaper, printing and photography services, public library, information office, laundromat, real estate agents and accountants, as well as number of outlets for the sale and hire of outdoor equipment and winter sports.

11 km to the west, at Raetihi, there is a vet clinic, farm supplies store and second hand clothing store, as well as mower and chainsaw repair shops. There is a machinery hire pool yard 30 km to the east at Waiouru.

Sporting Clubs

Ohakune has a number of clubs and is home to the Ruapehu Rugby & Sports Club[10]

For information on other clubs in Ohakune refer VisitOhakune[11]

Activities and Events

Winter Activities

Ohakune provides easy access to the nearby ski fields of Mount Ruapehu; the large commercials ski resorts of Turoa (the closest resort to Ohakune) and Whakapapa, and well as the small club field Tukino. Various outlets for clothing and ski hire, as well as purchasing lift tickets, are available in the town.

Ohakune is the home of the Ski FM Network[12] hosted by 91.8 FM Ruapehu/Turoa, a Central North Island radio station that has been in operation for more than 25 years providing local information regarding mountain conditions in both winter and summer. During the winter it is the "information desk" and source of all things snow for the region.

Summer Activities

Ohakune caters for various summer activities, and provides access for trampers hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Mountain bikes are available for hire at various outlets in town.

Various water activities are available on the nearby rivers, with jet boating on the Whanganui River and rafting available along the Whanganui, Rangitikei and Tongariro rivers. Trout fishing is available in nearby lakes and rivers, including the world famous Tongariro River. Activities can be booked at the Ruapehu i-SITE.

The Bridge to Nowhere in the Whanganui National Park located between Okakune and Wanganui is a popular destination for trampers and mountain bikers.


In recent years the number of events hosted by Ohakune has increased, with both the Big Mountain Short Film Festival and Ohakune Mardi Gras[13] featuring on the calendar. The Mardi Gras is both a ski party and celebration of winter, and includes musicians, stalls and rides.

Ohakune is also part of the Fallout Festival,[14] an annual event that focuses on bringing creative elements into the community to celebrate the snow season.


Ohakune has three schools.

  • Ohakune School is a state full primary (Year 1–8) school. It has 182 students as of March 2016.[15]
  • Ruapehu College is a state secondary (Year 9–13) school. It has 150 students as of March 2016.[15]
  • Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngati Rangi is a state Māori-immersion full primary (Year 1–8) school. It has 12 students as of March 2016.[15]


State Highway 49 runs through the town, where it is locally named Clyde Street. Ohakune is also on the North Island Main Trunk Railway.


Ohakune is on the Intercity coach network, with a daily service running north to Auckland via Taumarunui and south to Palmerston North via Wanganui.[16] Passengers travelling to or from Wellington change services at the town of Bulls, near Palmerston North. Intercity bus stops are located in Clyde street in the centre of town; southbound buses stop outside of Harvey World Travel and northbound buses stop across the street in front of the public toilets.

Local services to Taupo via the towns of National Park and Turangi are operated by a private shuttle service, the Alpine Hot Bus,[17] with summer and winter timetables.


The North Island Main Trunk Railway provides passenger and freight rail services to Ohakune. The railway station is located off Thames Street in the Ohakune Junction area, approximately 2.5 kilometres from Clyde Street in the centre of town.

Passenger services are provided by the national operator KiwiRail. The Northern Explorer is a non-daily service operating between Auckland and Wellington; services to Ohakune depart Auckland on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, and Wellington on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday; services do not operate on Christmas Day.[18] Journey times to Ohakune are approximately five hours from Wellington and six hours from Auckland; the journey to/from Auckland crosses the famous Raurimu Spiral.

From 18 December 1917 until 1 January 1968, Ohakune was also the junction for the Raetihi Branch, a branch line railway to Raetihi. A truss bridge formerly used by this branch still stands near the Big Carrot. Seventeen kilometres to the east of the town is the Tangiwai Bridge, site of New Zealand's worst railway accident, the Tangiwai Disaster, on 24 December 1953.

Private Hire Vehicles

Private hire vehicles are limited in Ohakune.

Ruapehu Connexions[19] provide shuttle services around town and to nearby townships, as well as to the nearby ski fields and for persons undertaking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. All trips must be booked in advance.


A mock-romantic song from the mid-1960s called September in Ohakune was recorded by Peter Harcourt on an LP called Land of the Long White Shroud

The world's first commercial bungy jumping site was established just outside Ohakune at the old railway viaduct. This was operated during the 1980s until the bridge became too unsafe to continue operations. This bridge is now restored and a highlight of the 'Old Coach Road' walk/bikeway.

Ohakune railway station has the second highest elevation of any operating railway station in New Zealand behind National Park Railway Station; a sign on the platform side of the station building lists its height at 2,029 feet (618.4 metres) above sea level.

See also


  1. "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2015 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> For urban areas, "Infoshare; Group: Population Estimates - DPE; Table: Estimated Resident Population for Urban Areas, at 30 June (1996+) (Annual-Jun)". Statistics New Zealand. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Ohakune Info
  3. Directory of Iwi and Māori Organisations
  4. Encyclopedia of New Zealand 1966
  5. Shots fired. "North Island shooting". Stuff.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Ruapehu i-SITE
  7. Ohakune Info
  8. Eventfinda Bar & Pub Venues in Ohakune
  9. "Ohakune's Big Carrot turns twenty next month". Wanganui Chronicle. 21 September 2004. Retrieved 24 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Ruapehu Rugby & Sports Club on Facebook
  11. Visit Ohakune
  12. Ski FM Network
  13. Ohakune Mardi Gras
  14. Fallout Festival
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "Directory of Schools - as at 18 April 2016". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2015-04-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Intercity Ohakune Service Timetable
  17. Alpine Hot Bus
  18. KiwiRail Scenic Long Distance Train Timetables
  19. Ruapehu Connexions