alpine retreat at Mt
NZ's central North Island
a stay at the Chateau Tongariro
of the Chateau Tongariro
Pictures of the Central Plateau
a fabulous weekend getaway spot? Well we've just the place for you.
is situated among some of the best alpine scenery in New Zealand,
is close to the major North Island skifields
and has a luxurious ambience and style.
Tongariro is the establishment and she is the Grand
Lady of the Mountains, a hotel that contains all of the elegance
of days gone by - but with all the modern conveniences.
above all, it is surprisingly affordable.
first see her as you drive up State Highway 48, having passed through
some countryside that offers superb views of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe
and Ruapehu herself.
Chateau Tongariro sits as a symbol of civilisation right under the
majestic backdrop of Mt Ruapehu. From a distance she looks small,
but that belies her actual size. This is a hotel of substance and
staff are immaculately dressed, perfectly mannered and very well
trained. They are friendly and attentive, without you ever getting
the feeling you are being hovered over. And here's
a tip for many other tourism organisations - while the
Chateau has quite a number of younger workers they always seem to
have an older hand nearby to assist if needed. It rarely is.
when you consider that a decidedly average motel will set you back
about $120 a night, the deals
on at the Chateau will have you wondering why you hadn't thought
of it before.
better yet - you won't find many hotels around New Zealand that
have the stunning surroundings on offer at the Chateau.
you are there in the warmer months - and I have to suggest spring
as my choice because you still have plenty of snow capping Ruapehu
and the nearby sisters of Tongariro and Ngauruhoe - you will get
to see vistas not possible in winter.
for photographers, I reckon the scenery is better away from winter
as the uncovered rock formations are pretty spectacular and make
for some fabulous images.
after a hard day out clambering over rocks and climbing slopes taking
photographs having a relaxing drink in the Chateau's lounge was
can take a position looking out windows to get wonderful views of
Mt Ngauruhoe, plonk down in the reading room, or just enjoy the
click of snooker balls on the full-size table.
from the luxurious surroundings and very comfy couches you can flow
into, the ease with which you can chill out comes from the fact
that while at the Chateau you get the feeling it is very poor form
to make a lot of noise or bother other guests.
is all very polite and well mannered and that is worth bucketloads,
or champagne glasses full anyway.
rooms at the Chateau are excellent. Nothing is over the top. It
is simple, stylish and elegant.
are nicely balanced with neither too much, nor too little, space.
The TV and other essentials are tidied away within a giant robe
and there is a handy little table and two chairs placed by a window
so you can sit and enjoy good reading light or just watch the other
guests as they play golf or wander about.
the bathroom there is underfloor heating - a godsend as it does
gets cold up in them thar mountains - a good shower and a spa bath
large enough to loll about in for hours.
for the gals there is plenty of mirror space with which to dress
by for dinner.
a meal in the Ruapehu Room is one of the things you must do while
staying at the Chateau.
menu is terrific and the dining experience definitely adds to the
occasion of a weekend away. And, to get the full benefit, you really
must make an effort and dress up. I was slightly disappointed some
of the guests snuck in to eat in jeans and sneakers, but then I
can be a dreadful snob.
must-haves on the menu are the
mushroom and truffle ravioli - it was gorgeous - and the venison
Ruapehu Room is not cheap but on a weekend away treat yourself to
at least one evening meal there - you will be glad you did.
Available at Chateau Tongariro:
out packages at the Chateau Tongariro
Located in the middle of the North island, Mt Ruapehu is some 335
kilometres south of Auckland in a volcanic region that includes
Mt Ngarahoe and Mt Tongariro.
This is the biggest and most used skiing area in New Zealand and
covers a whopping 400 hectares. The ski fields are on the north-western
side of Mt Ruapehu and offer everything for everyone. One fifth
of the area is good for beginners, almost two-thirds will suit intermediate
skiers, while advanced skiers and snowboarders will have a fifth
of Whakapapa to themselves. There are more than 30 runs with 17
high-capacity lifts making getting back to the top hassle-free.
Average snowfall: 400 cm.
Highest lift: 2300 metres.
Vertical drop: 670 metres.
Lifts: 17. 10 main, 7 beginner tows.
Facilities: cafes and bars, children's creche, children's programme.
Season: Late June - Late October.
Also situated on Mt Ruapehu, but on the south-west side, Turoa is
similar in size to Whakapapa but has a slightly larger beginners'
area. One quarter of its runs are suitable for novices, 55% for
intermediates and advanced skiers and snowboarders have around 20%.
Turoa has the largest vertical drop in New Zealand and Australia
and is renowned for excellent skiing in Spring.
snowfall: 450 cm.
Highest lift: 2322 metres.
Longest run: 4 km.
Vertical drop: 720 metres.
Lifts: 11. 7 main, 4 beginner tows.
Facilities: Cafes and bars, children's programme.
Season: Late June - Late October.