Mount Ruapehu – from the luxury side

Skiing, snowboarding, and snow in general – we all love it and we have all done our time in either the campervan or with ten friends piled into one bunkroom of a hostel. It was all about getting up the mountain and having a good time.

As time has moved on many of us have grown more particular with our tastes, so we thought it was time that Getfrank went grown up on the mountain and explored some of the accommodation greats that little old Ruapehu has to offer.

Powderhorn Chateau

Our week of snow adventure started at one of Ohakune’s infamous hotels and landmarks - situated at the doorstep of the spectacular World Heritage Tongariro National Park and Mount Ruapehu’s Turoa ski field it is hard to match the Powderhorn Chateau for its location and facilities.

Getfrank enjoyed two fantastic nights in the Powderhorn – never has hanging with friends in the Powderkeg been so much fun when we knew our room was a mere hallway away.

Combining all the features of a hotel with the ambience of a European alpine lodge, the Powderhorn sports an incredible (massive) indoor spa,  two restaurants, 30 ensuited rooms, Ski & Snowboard Store, and a ‘mansion’ which can sleep between six and eight adults.

The Powderkeg and the Matterhorn restaurants offer a high standard of dining, after a hard day out on the slopes elegantly face-planting yourself down the mountain there’s nothing like kicking back with the complimentary mulled wine next to the open fire upstairs in the immaculate Matterhorn restaurant.


The Powederkeg has become the heart of Ohakune’s nightlife with open fires, great drink specials, coffees and bar snacks, including a delicious après ski cheese platter. Any Friday or Saturday will see you being dragged up onto the tables to let loose to the likes of Kora’s Flow with a diverse range of North Island snow enthusiasts.

Each suite features unique individual touches, specifically the timbered interiors, queen-sized beds and large bathrooms (with their own mini drying room!) create a homely feel. Combining all modern facilities with the ambience of a friendly accommodation, the Powderhorn Chateau is an ideal choice for those seeking adventure mixed with a little class and a lot of fun.


The Powderhorn are currently running a mid week special – Sunday through Thursday nights - $199.00 per night included two cooked breakfasts!

Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Taking the leisurely drive 45 minutes around the other side of our great mountain you come across National Park – definitely doesn’t have the same après ski allure and nightlife of Ohakune with fewer bars and restaurants, but instead entices you with it’s dual listed World Heritage status.


The obvious choice for accommodation here is the The Bayview Chateau Tongariro. The Chateau is an icon hotel that grandly holds its position at the base of the mountain with three volcanoes as a backdrop. Its neo-Georgian style allows it to sit elegantly without being monstered by the natural scenery.

/img/placeholder.gif?aHR0cDovL2k1OTYucGhvdG9idWNrZXQuY29tL2FsYnVtcy90dDQ1L2dldGZyYW5rLzA5MjEwOS9CYXl2aWV3Q2hhdGVhdTIuanBnIt’s the largest hotel in the area with 106 rooms – each with their own spectacular view of the surrounding national park, there are also nine motel units within the Whakapapa Village.

We saved this place for our last night, knowing we could relax our aching muscles in the sauna and hot plunge pool or even our own jet spa in the room, and as an added bonus we were delighted to find our lavish room contained it’s own gas fire to curl up in front of with a well deserved bottle of red.

Dinner was in the Mt Ruapehu room, probably one of the most formal restaurant settings on the mountain. Silver service, heavy drapes and an overall atmosphere that reminds you of genteel days in times gone past makes for a delightful evening – our pick for the ‘surprise romantic dinner that she won’t be expecting on a ski trip’!

Ahuru Lodge

Ahuru Lodge is new, very new – it had only been open eight or so weeks when we visited. A little bit out of the way of the hustle and bustle of Ohakune this is something truly special.  Owners Lyn and Rich have spent months putting the finishing touches on a place that can now claim to be the only five star accommodation in the area.

A boutique six suites all with full views of the mountain and opening out onto the private river (meaning you can trout fish from your deck, seriously!) Each room has a full  ensuite and luxuriously deep baths that also have full mountain views, candles and a range of delicious Linden Leaves products.


Lyn and Rich have found that their clientele so far have been mostly international guests, those looking for something a bit special and a bit more –who aren’t necessarily going to leap out of bed at the crack of dawn to be up the mountain – and with the fabulous home cooked breakfasts that Lyn makes we were certainly in no rush to get out either.

Rich’s handiwork is seen throughout the lodge – from the steelworks by the fireplaces to the bedside tables to the stone walls. He modestly admits that he only intended to do the steel work but the project just kept growing.


Our favourite aspect (and we had a lot to pick from – sauna, lodgeside river, indoor and outdoor roaring fireplaces) was the spa-pool. Set on its own private deck elevated above the river and about 50 metres away from the house. It’s party enclosed by a stone wall that blocks the wind but allows perfect views over the river. With a full moon and a clear sky we could see right across to the Mountain and with our well selected bottle of red (developed into a bit of a habit!)  alongside it was hard to deny that this was perfect après ski bliss. 

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  • Wice says
    This area is not just somewhere to go in winter for snow and skiing, it's definitely one of my favourite summer holiday destinations too. Whether you go with your family or as a couple, it offers all you could want. You can do as little or as much as you feel like in this awesome setting.

    There are all sorts of activities available - many of them free. The walks are fantastic - all quite different in lengths, scenery and grades - from 15 minutes to full days - enough to keep you busy for a week no problem - silica rapids, beech forests, lalas, wetlands boardwalks, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, mountain landscapes. You can go up Ruapehu on foot or take their chairlifts and have lunch in the snow. You can see where Lord of of the Rings was filmed and climb the rockfaces. You can even walk to the lake at the top of Ruapehu. There is golf and kite flying. You can go hunting or mountain biking; or you can have a spa or a hot swim. It’s a photographer’s dreamworld – a fantastic place!

    The Department of Conservation also has offers an extensive summer activity programme suitable for all ages- hiking, flying, bike riding, fishing, waterfall walks, wetland kyaking, caves exploration, kiwi tracking, horseriding, helihiking, 4WD, trecking hot springs, historic old coach walk... My most memorable DOC excursions were caving – where we all waded through underwater streams; and looking for edelweiss high on the scrim slopes.

    You can book DOC activities (plus find out much more about them)) on line at

    If you need any information once you are there the Visitors Centre, at Whakapapa is really helpful and they have a great shop there too.

    Here is a video I found showing the Torgariro Crossing which is a good days trek - quite magnificent but still suitable for the whole family.

  • Roz says
    So looking forward to doing the Tongario Cross in mid January.

    Hubby and I had booked to go with a bunch of friends last January but sadly my father's illness turned for the worse and we cancelled our trip.

    Really looking forward to getting out there onto the Plateau... I've seen some amazing photography of the area in Summer and it looks amazing through all the seasons.
    • Anna says
      *shudders at thinking about doing the staircase* hehe but it is an amazing walk!! although last time i broke my ankle and my friend broke her toe lol!
    • Anna says
      We have our family holiday home near ruapehu... its the nicest thing to wake up on a crisp winter morning and see the snow covered mountain... so beautiful!
    • Elisha says
      I have passed by it long long ago, its always been on my mind.

      I Love the photos on the net.
    • Foreverme says
      I just love this Chateau we go skiing every year and always call in for a drink and bite to eat.Unfortunately a bit out of our price range with the kids.But one day when they have left me and hubby might indulge ourselves.
      It always amazes me how fantastic it looks against the mountain especially when covered in snow a Gorgeous scene from a Christmas card.Well worth a visit when you come down from all day up the mountain they do the best hot chocolates.
    • Wice says
      I've been so looking forward to my annual summer trip to Whakapapa but I think this time, I might have to take a big pile of books with me the way the weather looks right now. I can't imagine all those beautiful walks being much fun in the rain. I won't be in the luxurious surroundings at the Chateau but it will still be wonderful to get away somewhere peaceful for a bit and not have to worry about either work work or housework for a bit.
    • ClaireElizabeth says
      We used to live near Turangi for 3 years but stupidly were guilty of not enjoying what is in your own backyard. Never went up there, but we did get to enjoy the cold crisp mornings (along with the frozen water pipes and long powercuts.) Keen to go there in summer now after everyones positive comments.
    • Elisha says
      i am so proud to be a kiwi, wish i had extra money to go ALL around New Zealand.

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