A toasty night next to the fire with board games, an extra truckload of food, and great company. It sounds idyllic and Chateau Tongariro Hotel manager Brad McGlynn admits that being unexpectedly snowed in for more than a day wasn't too bad.

"The guests thought it was an adventure. It was fun. In the alpine environment there's just an expectation that these things do happen. They're skiers, they don't care," he said.

About 500 guests at the Chateau and Skotel Alpine Resort were stuck after major highways were closed on Thursday due to blankets of snow falling on the Central Plateau during a frosty three days for the entire country.

Highway closures across the regions saw reports of some people spending uncomfortable nights in their cars. At the Chateau, some guests missed international flights and had to cancel parts of their holidays, but the mood was relaxed, McGlynn said.


The cosy lounge of the hotel was filled with families who played endless board games, the scene most notable for the lack of smartphones being used, he said.

State Highway 47 reopened yesterday afternoon, allowing hundreds of guests to get moving. Prior to that, food had been delivered to the Chateau and various other resorts by Civil Defence teams.

On Friday evening State Highway 1 (the Desert Road) remained closed and workers were attempting to clear snow to get it open.

McGlynn said contingency plans were usually put in place for the season, when there was an expectation that snow could cause mayhem on the roads. However, this was an "exceptional" weather event due to its duration, he said. "We've had a fair whack of it."

Guests at the Chateau were finally able to move on yesterday as highways reopened. Photo / Nikita McSporran
Guests at the Chateau were finally able to move on yesterday as highways reopened. Photo / Nikita McSporran

He said Civil Defence had been excellent at keeping an eye on them, and he wasn't particularly stressed about the situation. The extended stay of some of the guests had made for extra logistical work for staff, but the snow hadn't kept away other skiers.

McGlynn said although there had been a mass exodus of stranded guests, they were instantly replaced with more holiday goers- unperturbed at the potential that their holiday might be extended at the Chateau.