14 Jul 2017

Stranded holidaymakers at Mt Ruapehu now free to travel

5:03 pm on 14 July 2017

More than 350 hotel guests stranded by snow at the base of Mt Ruapehu can now leave, with the road reopening in the wake of a storm that swept the country.

Desert Rd in the snow

Snow earlier this week on the Desert Road. The highway is expected to remain closed for another day or so. [thumbnail:117161:full] Photo: NZTA

Roads in the Central Plateau are closed and thousands are still without power in the central North Island in the wake of the storm that caused days of disruption as it barrelled up the country.

Up to 250 guests at Chateau Tongariro and more than 100 others next door at the Skotel Alpine Resort were snowed in last night.

Civil defence and the local council dropped off supplies this morning as food ran low.

The Chateau's manager, Brad McGlynn, said guests had been understanding.

"The road's now reopened...which is fantastic news so a lot of our guests have now departed and a lot of our other guests are now arriving in anticipation of a great day tomorrow."

The Napier Taupo road has reopened but the Transport Agency is warning drivers to take extra care.

The Desert Road is expected to remain closed for another day or so.

Earlier today, Skotel Alpine Resort's general manager Rebecca Dalgarno said a few people were "starting to get a bit of cabin fever" and some tour groups were worried about missing international flights.

Fifteen staff were on site but the rest of the employees could not get to work.

"Everyone that's still here on site is working double shifts and morning till night and banding together.

"I've chefs out there shoveling snow, I've got housekeepers working the restaurant and an amazing team just pulling together getting us through the day."

Yesterday afternoon, the army rescued 60 people from stranded vehicles in the Central Plateau, including 50 on board a Mana tour bus and a train driver.

The NZ Army rescued stranded travellers on Thursday and drove them to  Waiouru.

The NZ Army rescued stranded travellers on Thursday and drove them to Waiouru. Photo: NZ Army / Snr Sgt Samuel Dermody

They spent the night at the Waiouru Military Camp which is running on generators.

Ruapehu District Council said it was optimistic roads in the area would begin reopening later today.

The NZ Army rescued stranded travellers on Thursday and drove them to  Waiouru.

The NZ Army rescued 60 people from stranded vehicles on Thursday. Photo: NZ Army / Snr Sgt Samuel Dermody

The NZ Army rescued stranded travellers on Thursday and drove them to  Waiouru.

Photo: NZ Army / Snr Sgt Samuel Dermody

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