Staying at one of the 50 or so club lodges on the northern slopes of Mt Ruapehu is a unique experience. They offer backpacker style accommodation but are run by club members, for club members, clustered around the lifts of the Whakapapa skifield in Tongariro National Park.
Each club lodge is run differently so that means that there are things to be aware of when you stay at WTMC Ruapehu Lodge.
How does it work?
We provide bunkroom accommodation, along with all your meals in the snow season.
There are no staff in the lodge, so we all work together via a roster to cook the meals and clean the lodge before we leave. This should only take about 30-60min of your time over a weekend - many hands make light work!
There will be a Lodge Leader who is trained to open up and close down the lodge, take you through fire safety and other important information, as well as being able to sort out most common issues during your stay. They will ensure all the jobs on the duty roster are allocated, but they’re not your Mum - they shouldn’t need to chase or organise getting the work done.
Where is the Lodge and how do I get there?
The lodge is at the top of the Whakapapa skifield access road (“the top of the Bruce”), about 100m walk from the top car-park.
The lodge is quite easy to find, but it’s hard to describe how to find it for the first time. Start in the car park opposite Day Park 1, and head for Serac Lodge on the skyline. Take a look here for maps and a video that show how to get there: Lodge Location
It's a 100m walk from your car to the lodge, via a path that will be snowy, rocky or wet depending on the weather. Plan on it being a blizzard when you get there - keep warm clothes and good boots near the top of your gear, and have your gear in something you can carry for 10min or so. A backpack is a good choice, Samsonite rolling luggage not so much but still doable.
If you get to the lodge early, please drop your luggage in the ski room and don’t move into the bunkrooms until the last occupants have vacated the lodge (which will be 4pm at latest). This gives the last occupants time to clean up and clear their luggage. Feel free to come into the lounge and help yourself to tea and coffee (as long as you keep clear of the people cleaning up).
What if the road is weather affected?
Our location at the top of the Whakapapa ski road means that access is sometimes affected by snow and ice. This could prevent you getting to the lodge, and it could also prevent the Lodge Leader getting there. We need to have a trained Lodge Leader present when the lodge is open, so the lodge will be locked if they are unable to make it. Weather causes issues on one weekend every couple of years or so on average, but it’s something to be aware of.
If the weather is looking dicey leading up to your weekend, keep in touch with your Lodge Leader to check if the lodge will be accessible. (You’ll get their mobile number and email sent to you a few days before your trip). Also pay attention to the snow report at http://www.mtruapehu.com/winter/whakapapa-report/ – they publish expected road conditions around midday on Friday.
You should also have snow chains with you if you don’t have a 4WD. There’s little local demand in Wellington for chains so it pays to shop outside of Wellington. TradeMe usually have good deals available, search for ‘snow chains’.
If you are unable to get to the lodge because the road is closed or the lodge is not open, and you have discussed the situation with the Lodge Leader and there isn’t a feasible way to resolve it, then you’ll get a refund on your accommodation.
What do I eat?
During the winter snow season, we provide a cooked breakfast and dinner each day, as well as the makings for lunch for you to take to the mountain - Bread, fruit and so on. In weekends, this means you get breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday, as well as breakfast and lunch on Sunday. All you need to bring yourself are snacks and your favourite beverages.
Dinners are a set menu based on a rotating set of recipes.
We can cater to most dietary needs. Let us know your preferences in the comments when you book, at least a week or so out. We can try to ensure dinner meets your needs or can be adapted to suit, based on one of our standard recipes; or you’re welcome to cook your own meal from our stores. We can also ensure that for instance there are some staples such as gluten free bread available for you.
It makes sense for you to roster yourself onto the dinner crew if you want to know what goes into your dinner.
In summer the lodge is self catering. Sometimes, such as on WTMC club trips or other events, a group meal may be organised. Your Lodge Leader or trip leader will let you know if this is the case.
Where do I sleep?
We have five bunkrooms that sleep between 2 and 6 people, along with one 10-person bunkroom.
You need to bring a sleeping bag and a pillowcase. (You get a mattress and a pillow.) If you forget your pillowcase, a clean t-shirt makes a good substitute! There are also extra blankets if you get cold.
If you book as a group we’ll do our best to put you all together in the best-sized room for you. There is also room for your porta-cot in most bunkrooms - let us know if you’re bringing one and we’ll do our best to get you a family-friendly space for it.
We have a mix of single and double bunks - couples, please book together or tell us in the comments so we can put you together. We generally bunk young siblings together, and very occasionally we may have to ask two people in your group to top and tail in a double bunk, if the lodge is very full and not many couples and families have booked.
What other facilities does the Lodge have?
The lodge has normal services such as power, water, heating, phone, cellular and 3G signal.
Other facilities the lodge offers are:
What facilities are nearby?
Unlike overseas ski fields, on-mountain accommodation is rare in New Zealand - only two commercial fields (Whakapapa and Coronet Peak) have this here. Because of this, there are no services such as shops, cafes or pubs available after the skifield closes - the nearest pubs and restaurants are 6km away at Whakapapa Village, and fuel and groceries are 20km away at National Park village.
There are plenty of activities in Tongariro National Park, close to the Lodge. We've listed some of them on our What to Do page.
What else do I need to know?
Take a look at the briefing document that the Lodge Leader will take you through when you arrive. It contains important fire safety facts as well as other useful information.