Tararua Tramping Club

Celebrating 100 years of tramping

Tararua Lodge Notes For New Comers

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Tararua Lodge, Whakapapa Ski field, Mt Ruapehu: Notes for newcomers

Tararua Lodge is a well-equipped facility with electricity, hot showers and a drying room. The lodge is at the same altitude as the top of Whakapapa’s first chair lift and is a 15 to 20 minute walk from the top of the lift with weekend gear. From the end of the Bruce road the Lodge is a 40 to 60 minute hike up the ski field with weekend gear. These times will vary in winter due to the snow and weather conditions. This remoteness adds to the wilderness experience and in winter means you can ski to and from the lodge.

Make sure you have the lodge phone number 027 882 5343 with you, so you can ring if things do not go to plan. There is a card phone near the ticket office at the top of the Bruce road. Mobile phones work in most places on the ski field.

Getting to the Lodge

Weekend trips

Most club trips leave from the Aotea Quay side of the railway station after work on Friday evening. Unless you hear otherwise, you will probably stop for takeaway food on the way up, and arrive at the car park about 11.00pm. Have a torch, boots and tramping gear (including waterproof parka, overtrousers, warm hat and gloves) at the top of your pack.

Please do not leave the car park without your trip leader

Stay with your group on the way up to the lodge (make sure people know that it is your first trip). It is your leader’s job to get you there safely; it is your job to stay close to the leader.

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Week trips and non-member groups

For safety reasons all new groups need to be guided to the Lodge by an experienced person capable of finding the lodge in all weather. It is the responsibility of the TTC trip leader or in absence of a leader the lodge custodian to get you to the lodge safely from the top of the Bruce Road (often tyre chains are required for the road).

It is your responsibility to coordinate with the leader or custodian. You will not want to arrive and find the lodge locked! If it is a good day the leader or custodian may be skiing so initial contact should be made in the evenings or early morning. The leader/custodian will assess the weather and the group and determine the best way for the group to safely get to the Lodge.

Access on foot

RAL will allow foot passengers and gear to upload on the Rangatira lift in the morning and afternoon under these terms if you require it.

  • for the late night travellers it is advisable to carry a torch or headlamp and have appropriate foot wear and/or alpine boots for navigating the ice when required
  • if you are walking up onto the mountain please take extreme care around groomers, particularly if you suspect they are operating the winch – stay well clear until the groomer has unhook the winch. A headlamp and high vis is a great way to be seen at night by our snowmobile operators as well.

What gear to bring

  • Pack (essential) – you will have to carry it, possibly up hill through soft snow, so pack light!
  • Boots (essential) - ski boots, tramping boots, or other stiff soled boots;
  • Storm gear (essential) – waterproof parka , overtrousers, hat or balaclava, and gloves;
  • LED headlamp (recommended) or torch with good batteries
  • Snow goggles, sun glasses, sunscreeen, sun hat
  • Pillow case, sleeping bag, towel and toiletries – mattress and pillow are provided.
  • Change of clothes for the lodge, and a pair of indoor shoes;
  • Please pay lodge fees in advance with online banking;
  • Personal stuff as needed, eg clothes for the lodge, towel, toiletries.


Communal breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided. (Unless as a large group you have made other arrangements) You may be asked to help with the shopping. You will be asked to help carry food and other supplies up to the lodge unless a custodian is present. Duties will be rostered. You are responsible for your own snack food for day trips.

Lodge Safety

The trip leader will show you where fire exits and extinguishers are. Keep footwear, raincoat and torch by your bunk so you are prepared to leave the lodge in emergencies during the night.

WhakapapaParkingPlan.jpg: 2442x696, 171k (2020 Jun 28 01:20)
Whakapapa parking plan
overnight parking in red

Car parking

RAL have agreed, after consultation with NZTA, DOC, Iwi and Regional Council, to limit the maximum numbers on the mountain on any day and to mitigate peak traffic congestion. It has been agreed to achieve this by managing parking with an online booking system.

RAL has set up a number plate recognition checkpoint at Scoria Flat on the Bruce road.

  • if you arrive anytime after circa 6am you will not be able to pass this point unless your number plate has been registered with a pre-booked park
  • a specific park is not reserved, just a space in a day park
  • there will be no charge for a space
  • bookings will open 4 days in advance.

As parking management is changes regularly based on Alert level and conditions please check RAL's parking page and parking FAQ before leaving for the mountain

Please note however if you are going to the lodge overnight:

  • carpark 1 is no longer be available for overnight parking, but Carpark 2 is now be an overnight park
  • RAL advise that this is because Carpark 1 has a slope and when icy there have been issues with the inability to clear the area of snow and ice and occasionally vehicles subsequently sliding causing damage
  • carpark 2 is level so RAL believe it will be safer and more easily accessed by service vehicles where required.
  • there are circa 400 parks set aside for overnight parking. These can't be booked

If you arrive late afternoon or evening you will not need to prebook a day park. The checkpoint will remain open after the middle of the day, as the purpose of the system is to manage the morning traffic flow and maximum numbers on the field.

If you arrive during the morning you will have to pre-book a day park to get past the barrier, even if you intend to go to an overnight space. As has occurred in the past you will likely be shepherded to a day park on arrival and may have to park there and move your vehicle later.

Chains should always be carried in your vehicle, after snow you may need them to extract your vehicle if they haven’t been able to clear around it. A shovel is also useful for clearing accumulated snow from around your vehicle if needed.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts request that:

  • when the park is clear of snow can you ensure that you park within the marked car spaces.
  • take care as to how you park allowing other cars to move out when required.

Bruce Road overnight Closure

If DOC's roading contractors believe road conditions overnight will be poor, they will close Bruce Road at 6pm. Live updates on the this will be displayed on the NZTA road conditions website

DOC have indicated they may consider club volunteers managing road access after hours if an acceptable safe process can be agreed, but this will be a work in progress.

Page last modified on 2020 Oct 23 19:52

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