top of page
Art, culture and heritage
National Army Museum

Location: Waiouru, 20 minutes’ drive from Ohakune
Opening hours: 09:00-16:30 daily
From humble beginnings in 1964, what was once one of several small scattered collections of military memorabilia has now developed into the national monument to New Zealand’s armed forces. Born of General Ronald Hassett’s ‘Operation Heritage’ to construct a fitting tribute to the nation’s military heritage he museum was built with the help of Army Engineers and team of volunteers in just 276 days!

Railway Museum Ohakune

Location: The Junction, Ohakune
Much of Ohakune’s rich history revolves around the railway. ‘The Junction’ area of the township, which is popular in the winter season for its après ski, was the original hub of the settlement serving the engineers, labourers and early passengers of the railway. Several of the buildings in this part of the town date back to the construction of the tracks in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
At the side of these all-important tracks sits the Railway Museum, a converted 1930s railway shed that was re-located to Ohakune in 1990 and is now home to a selection of fascinating displays on the history of the railway and settlement in the region.

Current exhibits include:
• A moving exhibition on the Tangiwai Train Disaster of Christmas Eve 1953, New Zealand’s worst-ever rail disaster – well worth a viewing
• The history and future of the North Island Main Trunk 1870-2013
• Raurimu Spiral and Main Trunk Milestones
• Railway Control Units (Post War)
• Semaphore Signals, early railway workers’ cabin, tools and historic photos
The museum is within walking distance of most accommodation in Ohakune.

Opening Hours: Fri,Sat-Sun 11-3pm and public holidays. Other days by arrangement.Ph: Helen Gordon 021 1119692

Horopito Motors - Smash Palance
Smash Palace Ohakune.jpeg

Location: Horopito, 10 minutes’ drive from Ohakune
Opening hours: 11:00-15:00 daily
Entry fees: Gold Coin Donation.

In 1981 the New Zealand movie ‘Smash Palace’ rose to international acclaim. Horopito Motors was the location for the garage scenes in the movie and just driving past it is easy to see why. Bill Cole established his motor garage in the town in the mid-1940s and today it remains as one of the most unique car collections in the world. With a philosophy of scrapping nothing, Bill Cole and his family have built up the 15 acres of vehicles over 60 years and today the collection includes rare Bedford, Austin, Singer and Chrysler models amongst others.
This is not a place to go and appreciate vintage cars in superb condition. It is what it is: a wrecker’s yard with a vast assortment of vehicles in varying states of decay. But this absolutely fascinating collection is well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in automotive history.
Horopito Motors is still a working garage but for a small donation, you can wander around the yards at your leisure.

The Last Spike Monument

The Last Spike Monument
Location: SH4, 3km north of Pokako, 15 minutes’ drive from Ohakune
Opening hours: Daily
Entry fees: Free
At the side of State Highway 4 sits a monument to the completion of the North Island Main Trunk Railway line. The monument marks the spot where, in 1908, Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward drove the last spike into the track. The monument is accessible at all times.

Smash Palace parts, Ohakune.jpeg
Tangiwai Memorial

Location: Tangiwai, 13 minutes’ drive from Ohakune
Opening hours: Daily
Entry fees: Free
This poignant memorial was erected for the victims of the Tangiwai rail disaster. New Zealand’s worst-ever rail disaster occurred on Christmas Eve 1953 when the Wellington-Auckland express train plunged into the Whangaehu River following the destruction of the bridge by a lahar. The memorial bears the registration plate of engine Ka949 and stands alongside the replacement bridge with Mount Ruapehu, from which the lahar flowed, in the distance.
Along the road, you can see the gates that are part of the early warning system that came about as a result of this tragedy. 

Waimarino Museum

Location: Waimarino, 15 minutes’ drive from Ohakune
Opening hours: Sundays 14:00-16:00
Entry fees: Donations appreciated
Based in the relocated historic Raethihi railway station with additional exhibition space provided in former stables and jail cells (complete with heavy doors, bolts and prisoner viewing windows), the Waimarino Museum is home to an interesting collection focussing on the history of the Central Plateau from the early Māori settlers, through the time of the prosperous timber industry up until the present day.

bottom of page