Pros: It's wide long bowls are bigger than probably most Australian slopes.
Cons: Not as close to international airports such as Christchurch/Mt Hutt, or Queenstown.
Auckland is about 12 hours flight from Los Angeles. Ruapehu is about 4 hours drive from Auckland but there's so much to see and do on the way, allow a few days to take in the sights. NZ is the "world in your pocket: the north is "Tahiti" and parts are like Scotland (including Architecture) and the south end is like the Norwegian fjords. If you've seen Lord of the Rings, you've seen parts of the Sth Island.
Anyway, back to sking.
Recommended stays are the Chateau and the Skotel/Motel at "Whakapapa", just a half mile or so from the main chairlift served by a shuttle). It's close, convenient and very sociable.
The mountain is friendly: you'll see the mid mountain ski lodges full on weekends of regular 'real skiers': this isn't a cookie cutter resort with fake "Let's pretend we're at Chamonix" feel. This is the real McCoy, with club beds in communal clubs, very nice motel rooms at the Skotel, or the refined elegance of the Chateau (see pic)
It's the NZ equivalent of a Kirkwood-meets-Alpine Meadows-meets-Old Squaw. Unpretentious and Unfiltered. There's no minks or jets. Just down to earth friendly people with good value skiing.
There's a volcanic hotpool up top. The centre is 500F or Celcius. Whether it's F or C, it's hot. Stay near the shore.
Dining on the Whakapapa side on the mountain is limited. There's the Chateau and Skotel and, on the hill and at the base, there's cafes. We didn't stay in the town on the other side, Turoa, but Ruapehu Cabins were recommended and Turoa is a town with more amenities and bars.