History and culture
Whakapapa Village was established in the 1920s. Accommodation huts were built for skiers and outdoor recreationists. The road up to the village (now State Highway 48) was built in 1925, and the Chateau hotel in 1929.
During the 1960s and 1970s the rapid growth in popularity of skiing and outdoor recreation resulted in the village becoming an important service and administrative centre in the park.
During these years much of the village as it is now was built: Park Headquarters and Chief Ranger's house (now the Department's Ruapehu Area offices and Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre), the Skotel hotel, Whakapapa holiday park, five club lodges, staff accommodation, workshops/service areas.
From State Highway 47 going north or south, take the clearly signposted turn-off onto State Highway 48. It is about a 4 hr 30 min drive from either Auckland or Wellington.
Know before you go
Temperatures at the village can be as cold as -10°C or as warm as 25°C. Frosts can occur at any time of the year. Often the overnight temperatures are below freezing in the winter months.
At Whakapapa the annual rainfall is about 2200 mm, while on the Desert Road side it is only 1250 mm.
Often during winter snow falls at the village, and sometimes to lower levels. However for the most part, the winter snowline is above the village.
Find out more about the weather in Tongariro National Park.