13 September 2014

Whangaehu Hut Reopening - Mt Ruapehu

Recently the Central North Island section of the New Zealand Alpine Club had an event, the reopening of the Whangaehu Hut on the eastern side of Mt Ruapehu at about 2100m. The hut was opened by Sir Edmund Hillary, fifty years ago. The hut had become in need of some TLC and after some extensive renovations was reopened by Peter Hillary - with champagne. The hut now has four bunks which can be top and tailed in or, at a pinch even cope with three! The antrum has been enlarged (more room for packs etc) and this is expected to prevent the snowing- and icing-up outside that used to occur every winter. It is better insulated and has been re-clad and relined - double grazing of the windows promising a more cosy place. The view is as good as ever - in all directions.

About twenty-something climbers ascended to the hut where Peter unveiled a plaque to reopen the hut. The opening was delightfully low key. All then descended through near whiteout conditions to the NZAC Christiana lodge at the Tukino skifield where the event was successfully celebrated.

As one who had been instrumental in starting the CNI section of the NZAC and had helped look after the hut for many years I was in a good position to appreciate the efforts of those who had put in the hard yards. From my days I was pleased to catch up with Dennis Sanders and John Woolford - consistent early helpers with the hut. The whole event was very well organised. The actual opening was quite low key with a little sun creeping through to warm the fingers about the Champagne glasses. That evening the black ties were out and entertaining speeches made for a memorable evening - to say nothing of the excellent food (thanks Lars, the Chef and his sous chefs) and wine. Peter Hillary, NZAC President John Cocks, hut designer from 50 years ago David Hoyle, and various CNI committee members, amongst others, spoke. Slides of the early days of the hut and its construction and reconstruction were presented. On the Sunday people skied, climbed and departed - some maybe nursing sore heads. Here are a few photos of a great weekend.

The Sun Peeked Through
Peter Hillary Re-Opens Whangaehu Hut
David Addison and Mike Greer - Saturday Briefing

On Right John Cocks, Dennis Sanders and Nigel Roberts in Conversation

Peter Hillary - Dinner Speaker

Don French, Kim and Erik Duggan

Hut Designer from 1964, David Hoyle

Plenty of Food and Wine

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