TARARUA LODGE Mt. RUAPEHU - A SPECIAL WEEKEND
Saturday 26th June
On Saturday 26th June, 32 people, most dressed in their best, enjoyed a celebration at Tararua Lodge, Mount Ruapehu. The occasion was the completion of recent major upgrading of the Lodge which entailed a whole new kitchen in 2006 and the bathroom, toilet and drying room upgrade in 2009. Many of those who were involved in this work were present. Balloons, coloured lights and streamers gave the place a great ambience as heavy snow fell outside. Gluhwein and tasty nibbles helped to start the festivities at 5.30, followed by a scrumptious roast pork dinner, then pavlova, ice cream and Christmas pudding. A decorated cake, cleverly shaped and iced to resemble the lodge, was cut by two senior members, John Gates and Maurice Perry, both of whom were also present at the original hut opening in 1950. Highlights of the club’s history at Ruapehu were spoken of, culminating in the Lodge we have today. It was sixty years and nine days since the club opened its first hut on the same site in June 1950.
The main attractions of the site, chosen by club members in the post WW2 years, were the views of Mts.Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, Taranaki (Egmont) and some of Ruapehu. In 1947, a small four bunk hut, later called the bivvy, was erected adjacent to our present lodge site. This small hut, with an oil-burning stove, four bunks, some shelves and little else, gave our club a base on the ski-field for two years. During 1949, plans were drawn up and fundraising was underway for a hut to be built in 1950. Everything had to be carried up, as there were no chairlifts or 4WD road to Hut Flat and no helicopters in those days. Four builders stayed in the very small H.V.T.C. hut, just one year old then. On June 17th, T.T.C. president Bert Hines officially opened Tararua Hut. These old photos were displayed on Saturday evening.
In 1952 the club purchased a 2.75 K.W. petrol driven electric generator which we installed in the bivvy with a power cable and an ignition cable to the hut. This then gave us electric lighting and sometimes enough power for one appliance - a toaster at breakfast time. As well as carrying up carbonettes, we also had to carry up 4-gallon tins of petrol. After dinner on August 8th, 1954, a fire started from a rock-gas cylinder in the kitchen and was fanned by a strong southerly wind. The occupants all escaped but the hut was completely destroyed.
Plans for a new and larger hut were prepared by John Gates and fund-raising started. Work began in January 1955, with many loads of materials brought up at Anniversary Weekend. By then, the first chairlift was operating and a rough 4WD road had been built up to Hut Flat. R.A.L was then able to bring some of our materials up for us. A tractor, borrowed from the Chateau and driven by T.T.C member Logan Paterson, also transported some materials up: a mammoth effort for a few months, with builders once again staying in H.V.T.C. hut. This ensured that we had a hut for the ski season, although far from finished but useable. On August 6th1955 club president Alec Galletly proudly opened Tararua Hut II - our present lodge.
In 1961 we were connected to the electricity grid by a cable installed by members from hut flat. This meant we could now have electric water heating, our first electric stove, fan heaters in the drying room and plenty of lighting! By 1971 we were ready for some improved amenities and embarked on an ambitious project to extend the building and install flush toilets and showers. This necessitated building a septic tank and another underground water tank, a huge undertaking in this terrain! By 1983 John Gates drew up plans and supervised the work of lounge addition, partly with a drying room underneath and the building of the long bunkroom above the 1971addition. In 1996 we completely re-sheathed the hut over the weatherboards with vertical board and batten.
The recent upgrading, designed by Vivienne Radcliffe with Paul Maxim and Charlie Georgiou as builders, started with the installation in 2006 of the present kitchen and then the 2009 washroom, toilet and drying-room upgrade. Tararua Lodge is now of a standard that we can all be proud of with modern kitchen and washroom facilities. It is certainly a great place to stay!
- Party members
- Maurice Perry (scribe).