June 4, 2023

‘One or two parties’ interested in saving Chateau Tongariro – Ruapehu District Mayor

Watch: The Ruapehu District Mayor says "one or two parties" are interested in saving Chateau Tongariro.

A former staff member at the Chateau Tongariro with international connections is among the interested parties keen to restore it to its former glory following Sunday’s closure.

After 94 years, the category 1 heritage building officially shut its doors under a cloud of uncertainty.  

The last of the 60 guests to check out Sunday were UK visitors Anne Cooke and Karen Middleton.

“We feel so emotional, it’s a memory we’ve made and we will carry with us,” Middleton said.

The pair said staff were clearly emotional during the final hours but were “exceptional and carried out their duty impeccably, I congratulate them all”, said Cooke.

Chateau Tongariro sits on DoC land, the building is essentially an improvement.

Singapore-based Bayview Hotels and KAH New Zealand have had a 30-year lease on the building that lapsed in 2020. They’ve been operating month-to-month since.

Kevin Peeris, senior vice president commercial of the Chateau Tongariro Hotel’s parent company, said: “This is a very sad day for our hotel family.”

DoC and staff were advised on Tuesday the company was bowing out.

Seismic reports show “some of the hotel infrastructure no longer meets current safety standards”.

Also influencing its decision to walk was last year’s voluntary administration of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) and the uncertainty of the ski resort. 

Many of its 36 staff are being offered positions at its Wairakei Hotel. 

Ruapehu District Mayor Weston Kirton said his council has already had “one or two inquiries from prospective buyers”, including a former Chateau Tongariro staff member with international connections.

“There’s one organisation that has a history of rebuilding buildings, such as a castle [in Italy] that has been run down.”

DoC spokesperson George Taylor said it’ll spend the coming weeks liaising with iwi and the outgoing leasee “to understand what the future of Chateau Tongariro will look like”.

He stressed it’s “still too early to know” how much will need to be spent to strengthen the building and what will happen to treasured chattels like the silverware and chandeliers during the transition period.

Tourism Minister Peeni Henare stopped short of committing Government money to saving the majestic building.

“We’ve been engaged as the Government with the likes of Tuwharetoa and others who’re looking towards other opportunities that might be capitalised in that area but with the specific matter of the ski lifts and the Chateau it’ll be on a point of discussion with my officials.”

Newshub understands several regional mayors plan to meet next Tuesday to discuss how the New Zealand icon can be saved. 

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