Roomy Cabins with cooking facilities located on road 47, minutes (by car) away from Whakapapa Village (read Fakapapa). Great location to explore the Park and departure point for the Tongariro Crossing. They arrange pick up/drop off to the actual starting point.
The landscape with the volcanoes on back and watching the sun rise is spectacular.
There's a spa pool, but we didn't even see it. No time.
We stayed at Howard's Lodge for our trek in 2008 on my friend's recommendation - she loves the place and has stayed here for each of the 4 (yes, 4!) times she has done the Crossing. I was apprehensive as they drop you off on the mountain for an 8am start, which was later than I would have liked - the 4pm pick up means you have to have completed the trek within 8 hours.
Honestly? The guy on reception put me off on the phone when I made the booking. I don't appreciate being made to feel like an idiot for asking if they did earlier drop-off times (a competitor does). So I won't be going back. BUT my friend, as I just explained, loves the place, and in all fairness the facilities are excellent. The rooms are clean, and spacious, the communal lounge is very nicely furnished with plenty of room to stretch out and relax, the kitchen is well kitted out with room for plenty of hungry walkers and they have a spa pool which you can book in half hour slots (I passed on the post-trek spa experience and opted for the post-trek cold Speights at the pub experience instead).
You can choose from a private room with an en-suite, one with shared bathroom facilities, or a backpacker dorm. Prices will vary depending on season and room type. Check out the website for up to date info.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) maintains huts on many of the tramping routes. In Tongariro there are four huts - Ketetahi and Mangatpopo are the most popular (as they are on the Great Crossing route). The other two are Oturere and Waihohonu huts.
The hut had gas cookers that everyone used but we had to bring our own food and pots and plates etc. These are only supplied from October to June (peak season).
There are about 20 or so beds in the huts. They are bunk beds with mattresses on them. We actually slept four people on 3 bunks (as they are in a row and joined together). At times there can be more people arrive than there are beds so it pays to get to the huts early to reserve a space. You will need to buy your hut ticket BEFORE you go up the mountain. The only two places to get them are at the Whakapapa and Turangi information centres. The cost is $20 per night to use the hut. It is possible to camp there also for $15 per night.
There are outstanding views of Lake Rotoaira and Lake Taupo and the surrounding area from the Ketetahi hut. It is also the last place to use toilets for about 4 hours or so.
This is a cmpground in a really pretty environment. It's close to the Visitors Centre and near Mt Ruapehu. We where shocked by the lahar alarm, but fortunately nothing was wrong and at least the alarm was working.
BBQ, drying room, TV, freezer, C.Frig, store
The Discovery Lodge is the closest accommodation for the Tongariro Crossing, being just 10 minutes drive from the Mangatepopo end of the walk. They also offer the earliest drop off times, with the first bus leaving the Lodge at 6am, meaning you can be on the track and away before 6.30am, greeting the sunrise and almost having the mountain to yourself for a brief while ~ the majority of buses drop walkers off from 7am or even later.
The accommodation on offer ranges from camp sites to backpackers huts to self contained studios and chalets. There is a small restaurant on site and kitchen facilities for the backpackers and campers. The standard is adequate and I'd stay here again, but a lick of paint is needed in places.
We chose a studio for our stay, which meant we had our own kitchen, shower and TV (meaning we could preview some of those digital photos lol!). We paid approx $40NZ each for the accommodation. A self contained chalet would be more expensive than this, while the individual backpacker huts have a daily rate of approx $40NZ for 2 people. A tent site will set you back less than $10NZ
Naturally they arrange buses to pick you up at the other end of the crossing (remember the Tongariro Crossing is a one way hike) and the transport costs $20 per person.
Apart from the fact that the Lodge offers the early start, another great feature is its location ~ out on its own and with some stunning views.
One of the classiest and most expensive hotels in this area is The Chateau which is an old English style manor. When we dropped in to have a look and enjoy lunch in the cafe we got the run down on the history of the place from an old "butler" type of guy. He settled us in front of the fire for a chat. It is possible to stay in the hotel which is located at the base of Whakapapa Skifield on Ruapehu.
We stayed in a 4 bunk room at a rate of $20 each per night. The beds were comfortable enough. Bring your own sleeping bag.
Howards Lodge run a bus to the Tongariro Crossing each morning and return in the afternoon. You can hire hiking equipment from them. They also rent out Mountain Bikes.
There is a spa pool (free of charge), kitchen, lounge with games and TV. Breakfast service is also available.
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