Local communities in shock after Chateau Tongariro closes

Central Plateau communities are in shock after the Chateau Tongariro closed today. It’s another blow to the region after Whakapapa ski field went into receivership last year.

Built In 1929, the Chateau Tongariro has stood proud for decades through the harsh seasons on the Central Plateau, but conditions underground have proved too much for the historical building, now closing its doors for good.

A shock but not a surprise for nearby business owners.

James Bell operates T.B.C Ski Board & Bike in Ohakune and says the community is ‘gobsmacked’

“We are incredibly sad that the Chateau Tongariro has decided to close its doors; it’s just another example of a sadly neglected and underappreciated iconic piece of Aotearoa's history,” he told 1News.

“It’s not as surprising as we’d like it to be unfortunately, we saw the facility both as a guest and a resident, starting to decline and just minimizing its staff, and when it was open, minimizing its access,” Bell said.

Vertigo Climbing Ohakune business owner Jeremy Hamer said he hopes to see the iconic building back up and running soon.

“Definitely a shock to the system, we are a positive community here, and we want to see the town succeed, and when a business goes under, it’s never nice to see,” he said.

“We need attractions like it to survive as a community, it keeps tourists flowing and the town buzzing.”

“People here love the area and are passionate about it, so to see people push forward with it would be the dream, just got to keep pushing,” Hamer said.

Nestled below the Whakapapa ski field, the Chateau is considered the region's jewel in the crown, employing 36 staff and bringing much-needed tourists to the mountain.

Ruapehu Mayor Weston Kirton said the region is hurting.

“It’s a real kick in the guts for the districts economy and we want to try reverse that and get something up in the future,”

“It was a real shock to the community and a lot of anxiety and of course a lot of hurt for those people working there and we feel for those people."

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has been negotiating a renewal of the 30-year lease with overseas owners KAH NZ.

But a seismic assessment put the brakes on after some of the building fell short of safety standards.

Chateau Tongariro’s parent company says the cost of fixing the building, combined with issues like the poor snow season and tourist numbers meant it’s not financially viable to continue.

Built-in 1929 and listed as a category 1 historical place, Heritage New Zealand says the listing doesn't protect the building but it hopes it might help the building survive.

DOC's Steve Taylor said the Chateau’s future is uncertain.

“At this stage, I don’t want to rule anything out; we need to approach this with a fairly open mind again, recognizing the site has significant heritage value; it’s been an iconic part of the landscape, I certainly have fond memories of visiting the site myself but again we just need to be aware of the actual engineering requirement costs and various options available,” Taylor said.


More Stories