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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 5 (September 1, 1929)


Just half way between Wellington and Auckland, Tongariro National Park gives the populations of these cities splendid facilities for open-air recreation. Formerly the preserve of the robust tramper and mountaineer, National Park is now easily available to everybody, because the new Chateau Tongariro, within twenty minutes by motor service from National Park Station, provides the most complete comfort in the wilds.

Two o'clock of a dull winter afternoon at Thorndon Station; midnight sitting before a log fire in “The Lodge” at National Park. Outside, a moonlit landscape, with “Christmas-tree” effects, for there was a lovely covering of clean crisp snow. This week-end rapid transportation was made possible by taking the Auckland express to National Park, and a short motor run to that fine heritage of the nation which is at last to be made fully available to all classes of New Zealanders. That it can be reached, either from Auckland or Wellington, so quickly and easily by rail, constitutes its greatest advantage. When the facilities at the Park are ready to cope with large numbers of people it is easy to forecast a remarkable week-end business. Train services will no doubt be re-cast to meet the demand, and thousands of busy people will be glad to take this chance of a holiday in the winter-time, when holiday opportunities are hard to find.

A Georgian Mansion In The Wilds. The front elevation of Chateau Tongariro.

A Georgian Mansion In The Wilds.
The front elevation of Chateau Tongariro.

National Park has long attracted the more vigorous class of holiday-maker, prepared to “rough it,” and regarding that experience as part of the fun. For years they have enjoyed a monopoly of the many attractions of this wonderful area, with its remarkably varied sights. But there had to be a good deal of preliminary work. Arrangements had to be made to transport equipment to the huts, and then the visitors were thrown on their own resources. National Park was not exactly the place for a restful holiday. Many who knew it in those good old tramping days are regretting the transformation which will make it a conventional tourist centre, but that seems to be a selfish attitude. By the changes which have come about through the enterprise of the Tongariro Park Tourist Company, the pleasures of holidaying in this area are to be extended to every class in the community, whether they prefer to travel with chocolates and cushions, or just a ruck-sack.