Ohakune is an attractive little ski town on the southern slopes of Mount Ruapehu, at the foot of the road leading to the Turoa Ski Resort. It’s far, far busier in the winter, when most skiers and snowboarders tend to congregate in the lodges, bars and restaurants at the northern end of town, called the Junction. However, the main commercial strip in the southern part has some nice restaurants, bars, and shops as well, and there’s more atmosphere than in National Park Village, which is 20 minutes away.
In the summer, the town can get very quiet and most hostel facilities are kind of barebones. There seems to be little incentive for hostels to court traditional backpacker crowds, as they get most of their business in the ski season.
In addition to skiing, Ohakune is widely known as the carrot capital of New Zealand, and the giant carrot sculpture in town makes a kitschy photo-op.