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.


Journey into the clouds

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, and operates for sightseeing trips year round.

The Sky Waka travels to Knoll Ridge Chalet, the highest dining experience in New Zealand and an architecturally awarded, two-story eatery, which in summer caters both an extensive buffet dining experience, and a café style offering. The large, laminated pine structure, perched on the edge of the mountain, sits amongst a breath-taking setting, with views out to the Pinnacles, Ngā Tohu, range.

Key stats:

  • Uphill capacity of 2400 people per hour
  • 50 cabins seating up to 10 people
  • Operating speed is up to 6 metres per second
  • Floor to ceiling views of the volcanic landscapes. 

What's a waka?

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.

The Sky Waka symbolises the interconnectedness between the past, the present and future. For this is surely a symbol of the future, ascending this ancient maunga.


Posted in Blog on 13 January, 2022