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The Chateau Tongariro: one elegant old lady

How about this for a fab weekend: a car load from Auckland rendezvous’ with two car loads from Hawkes Bay at the elegant old lady of Tongariro, the Bayview Chateau for a birthday with a zero in it. A weekend with good food, good wine, a few giggles and fancy pants hotel to do it in.

Chateau Tongariro was built in 1929 on land gifted to NZ by the chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Horonuku Te Heu Heu Tukino. This land also included the sacred peaks of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe and today anyone can come here and enjoy these amazing mountains.

Bayview Chateau Tongariro

The Chateau Tongariro at the foot Ruapehu dusted in snow. Could this be any more perfect?

It was one of those picture postcard days finally arriving at Tongariro National Park some 4 hours after leaving Auckland and seeing the Chateau sitting majestically at the foot of the snow-capped Mt Ruapehu. And to top it off it’s late autumn so the whole trip down was ablaze with golds, reds and oranges as we drove down State Highway 1 through parts of NZ I’ve not visited before. (Hello Pirongia!)

Chateau Tongariro ballroom

The Ruapehu Lounge is your first breathtaking impression under chandaliers with a snooker table & bar

There were 10 of us in our group so the hotel did a package deal for us: 1 night, 2 three-course meals, 2 buffet breakfasts next morning $360 (or $180 pp).


The view to Mt Ngauruhoe

Don’t do what I did and see the peak of Ngauruhoe and say, oh I’ll take a photo later and whiz on past because some people were sitting here and I didn’t want to look like a dick taking photos of them. Snow clouds roll over all the time and when you see the snow-capped peak be quick! Alas this is the price of my shyness.

Chateau Tongariro bedroom

The king-size bedroom in the new wing

The bedroom above is in the new wing built in 2005 and below is a traditional room in the original building above the ball room. (I liked the new wing with modern bathroom better).

Chateau Tongariro bedroom

An old style bedroom in the original hotel part

Chateau high tea

High tea at the Chateau is worth driving from Taupo for!

Now get ready for dinner! Because there were 10 of us we ordered nearly every dish on the menu so I made everyone sit still until I went round the table and photographed their plates before they started picking at them. Here we go:

Chateau entree

Grilled haloumi with sweet and sour peperonata, rocket salad & olive tapenade

Chateau salmon entree

I had this dish: salmon tartar with avocado salsa & curry viniagrette. Delicious!

Chateau venison carpaccio

Entree of smoked venison carpaccio with blue cheese parma cotta

Right, now here come the mains:

Chateau dinner

This was also my dish: lamb with a feta and sundried tomato crust, aubergine croquettes & caramelised sweetbreads (which I gave away!)

Chateau fish dinner

The fish of the day comes on a minted pea & prawn risotto

Chateau fillet steak

Eye fillet with confit lemon & thyme potato & roasted tomatoes

Chateau Tongariro dinner

This photo doesn’t do the chicken justice. It’s honey, cardomom & pistacio crusted on a strawberry polenta

Pudding time!

Chateau chocolate dessert

Valrhona chocolate dessert with berry sorbet. This was sooo good and rich!

Chateau citrus slice

Citrus tart with strawberry & orange salad

Then we got a bit of exercise in the games room downstairs. I’m trying to whip my brother-in-law at ping pong while the rest of the cuzzies scream over the foozball table

Games room

Ping pong championships and the foosball fight in the background

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!