Staying at the WTMC Ruapehu Lodge
Staying at one of the 50 or so club lodges on the northern slopes of Mt Ruapehu is a unique mountain experience. The lodges offer comfortable, social, alpine-style accommodation. They are managed by club members, mostly for club members but also cater for non-members, and are located adjacent to the lifts of the Whakapapa ski field in Tongariro National Park.
How does it work?
The WTMC Lodge offers cosy bunkroom accommodation, and food for meals is provided in the winter season.
The lodge has no staff so all guests contribute to keeping the lodge running via a roster to undertake duties such as preparing food, cooking meals, washing dishes or light cleaning. This should only take about 30-60min of your time over a weekend.
There will be a Lodge Leader who is trained to open up and close down the lodge. They will talk 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.
Where is the Lodge located and how do I get there?
The lodge is near top of the Whakapapa ski field access road (‘the Top of the Bruce’), and is about 100m walk from the top car-park. For detailed notes on the lodge location and how to find it if arriving in the dark check out Lodge Location below.
It’s about a 100 m walk from the road 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 about 10 minutes. 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 do not move into the bunkrooms until the last of the previous 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?
The 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 Current Status
You should also have snow chains with you even if you 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’. TCB in Ohakune usually stock snow chains.
What do I eat?
During the snow season from the first weekend of July until the closing weekend of the season, food is provided. Lodge guests are expected, as a part of the duty roster, to prepare breakfast and dinner. On the day you arrive and depart, dinner is not provided, but there is almost always something you can pull together if you need it.
Ingredients to make lunch are also provided. This includes things such as bread, fillings, fruit and cake.
Dinners are based on a preset menu and are designed to cater to a regular diet as well as for vegetarians. If you are a vegetarian, it is your responsibility to specify in your booking comments how many in your party are vegetarian. When this is not specified, no allowance will be made for vegetarian diet when ordering food.
If you have dietary requirements outside of what is provided you need to self-cater some of your meals. You can check the Preset Menu to see what is planned for your stay and use ingredients available in your self-catered menu. It also makes sense for you to roster yourself on the food preparation crew if you need to know what’s going into your food. Keep in mind, the lodge is run by the club and the people staying at the lodge. These volunteers are not qualified chefs and cannot cater for specific dietary requirements.
In the summer, the lodge is self-catered, except when specifically booked by large groups like club trips, who will pay a food subsidy on top of their summer rates. Your lodge / trip leader will let you know if this is the case.
Where do I sleep?
All of the bunk rooms are heated. There are five rooms that sleep between two and six people and one 10-bed bunk room.
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. Bunk allocations are normally done a few days before the start of your stay. If you have any specific bunk or room requests please note these when booking, but we cannot guarantee that we’ll be able to accommodate them. The lodge is bunk room style accomodation, so please note the following:
- Families, please book in together so we can try to get you all in the same room (this may not always be possible, but we try really hard).
- Unless the lodge has free space, children in a group will double bunk.
- Couples, we generally assume you’re ok to share a double bunk, let us know if that’s not true in the notes.
- If you’re in a large group of singles, we may ask some people to share a double, but only if absolutely necessary.
- We can never guarantee that a group will get its own room.
- Our bunkrooms are not gender-assigned, but we do have two bathrooms.
What other facilities does the lodge have?
The lodge has normal services such as power, water, heating, phone, cellular 3G signal, and free Wi-Fi.
- Shared bathroom and shower facilities (bring your own towels and toiletries)
- Drying room and ‘wet room’ for your snow gear
- Full catering kitchen with all utensils
- Dining room and spacious lounge
- Workbench for ski/board tuning
- Stereo with radio, CD and phono plug for your music player
- A small library and toys/board games
- Wi-Fi Internet connection.
What facilities are nearby?
The nearest pubs and restaurants are 6km away at Whakapapa Village, and fuel and groceries are 20km away at National Park village. There is a cafe/bar on the skifield that is open during the day and late on Saturdays if there is night skiing.
There are plenty of activities in Tongariro National Park. We’ve listed some of them in the What you can do at the Lodge section below.
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.
Ruapehu Lodge is located in the heart of Tongariro National Park, in the ski community of Iwikau Village, at the base of the Whakapapa ski-field.
- 15 minutes drive from Whakapapa Village
- 5 minutes walk uphill from the car park at the Top of the Bruce Road
- 10 minutes from the ski chairlifts, ski gear hire and ski ticket sales
- 10 minutes from the ski school When the snow is good it is entirely possible to ski all the way to the lodge front door.
Getting there and away
- By car: The lodge is approximately 4½ hours drive from Wellington. Follow directions to National Park, Whakapapa Village and then the Top of the Bruce.
- By van: In association with Wellington Snow Lovers, there are vans running to the lodge several times a season from Wellington Railway station. Watch our forum for details. There are also regular club tramping and alpine trips to the lodge, in club vans. You can join these trips just like any other club trip.
- By bus: Nakedbus and Intercity have bus services to Ohakune, National Park and Turangi, with shuttles to take you to Whakapapa Village. You’ll need to arrange a pickup from someone at the lodge for a ride up the last 6 km. GreatLakeTaupo have some Links to bus services (scroll to the bottom of the page).
Finding the lodge
The lodge can be tricky to find the first time, particularly in the dark on a Friday night. Note that when the Bruce Road is closed for skiers, it may still be open for Lodge users. Check with a member of the Lodge sub-committee or Chief Guide in case of doubt.
Printable pdfs of these images, showing more of the surrounding area, are below:
Different people find different types of maps useful so here are two other maps showing the lodge location:
- Satellite view of the lodge location from Google maps (with a pin marker showing which building the lodge is, and suggested walking route from the car park marked)
- Topo map of the lodge location (with a pin marker showing which building the lodge is)
The following video shows how to find the Lodge, where to park your car, and precautions to take when you walk to the lodge in Winter.
Winter Car Parking
Car parking at Iwikau, Mt Ruapehu – what you need to know if you are staying at the lodge during the ski season.
After many complaints about the unfairness of the booking system used in recent years, it’s a return to a free for all—first come first parked and the rest need to fend for themselves. The booking system has completely gone.
For club members arriving on Friday night there should be no issues—logically just use the carparks directly opposite the track up to the lodge.
When arriving during weekdays (except for school holidays) there is likely to be sufficient carparks for all—although if you are not early enough you may face a long walk from a lower carpark.
It will be a different story for weekends and probably also school holidays—the carparks are likely to be full by about 7 am. After that you have the option of cruising around the carparks hoping for someone to leave or returning to National Park for a shuttle.
So, the takeaway for club members is:
- Friday nights simply park in Carpark 1 or Carpark 2 as before
- Weekdays outside of school holidays just wherever you can find a spot but be early or face a long walk from the lower parks
- Weekends—it may be your worst nightmare. Good luck and don’t panic!
- Refer to the Mt Ruapehu Iwikau parking layout map for information on where you can park.
Aren’t we fortunate to have our own lodge on the Maunga and so escape the worst of the parking problems. All thanks to those enthusiastic club members of 1953!
What you can do at the lodge
- Snow board
- Ski / snowboard touring
- Snow caving
- Day walks
- Alpine tramping
- Geology appreciation.
- Mountain biking
- Day walks
- Crater lake climbs
- White water rafting
- Trail running.
- Rock Climbing at National Park
- Tokaanu Hot Pools
- Army Museum in Waiouru
- Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- The 42nd traverse mountain bike course and trail run
- The Goat alpine adventure run.
WTMC trip leaders going to the lodge
Specific information for WTMC trip leaders going to the lodge:
WTMC Lodge on Facebook
Check out the last news, reviews, and lodge gossip at https://www.facebook.com/WTMCRuapehuLodge
WTMC Lodge on YouTube
Check out the videos taken on previous Summer Lodge trips at https://www.youtube.com/@wtmcmountruapehulodge