Ruapehu Ski Club was founded in 1913, making it the first skiing organisation in New Zealand and one of the earliest in the British Commonwealth. Our founders were William (Bill) Mead, a railway draughtsman stationed at Ngaruawahia, and Bernard Drake, a railway clerk of Wellington.

Imbued with an adventurous spirit, they imported two pairs of skis from Switzerland, as well as a British ski instruction book which provided them with the rudiments of their new sport.

They tested their skis in July 1913 on the eastern (Desert Road) slopes of Ruapehu near the Waihohonu Hut, and on their fifth day the pioneers began their first ski tour, reaching the present Whakapapa skifield.

Mead and Drake promptly formed the Ruapehu Ski Club, posting a notice at the Waihohonu Hut, and returned in the summer of 1913 to make on Boxing Day the first ascent to the crater with skis. They then made the first runs down the Whakapapa Glacier.


Hut building soon became a priority and our members, who by now included many women, used bullocks to cart a disused prison hut to Mangatepopo near Mt Ngauruhoe.

Deciding that Whakapapa was really the best site, our members then drove a cart track through to what is now the Grand Chateau site and on behalf of the Government Tourist Department they built the first Whakapapa Cottage in 1919.

Then in 1923 they built RSC’s first high level home, the tiny Glacier Hut on Hut Flat at 1750m which today is preserved and protected as a mountain museum and is an official category 1 Historic Place.

Further buildings followed steadily pre-war with a large hut at 1775m and post-war at intervals with our four current large and comfortable accommodation buildings, two at alpine level and two at drive to the door level.


Club spirit has always been an integral part of RSC and the Club history shows that besides the massive effort that went into designing and constructing the accommodation buildings, members poled tracks throughout the Ruapehu region, encouraged the use of Tongariro National Park by way of media articles, photos and lectures, and enjoyed many summer events as well as winter sports.

New Zealand’s first organised ski races and jumps were run by RSC in 1923. Competitions since then have been an important part of Club life, all the way from simple races for 6-year-olds right up the Winter Olympics where 10 members have skied for New Zealand since 1960.

During the Second World War nearly half of our male membership and many of the women were on active service. Auckland members packed 1100 food parcels for prisoners-of war, a magnificent project which gave RSC a focus even when there was little skiing.


Uphill transport was always a dream of the early RSC members so it was no surprise when Club members in 1946 set up their own rope tow at Whakapapa.

A few years later they were prominent in setting up Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL), a company which in 1954 built the first chairlift anywhere in NZ. Today it operates both the Whakapapa and Turoa skifields.

Members were also to the fore in mapping Whakapapa, setting up shelters, operating the Ski Patrol, staffing the NZ Ski Association and running the Ruapehu Mountain Clubs Association which was formed after more than 50 other clubs joined us at Whakapapa.


The present day finds RSC in great heart with more than 1400 members, four fine buildings sleeping more than 170 people, an office in Auckland, an historic on-snow museum, a top ski racing record and total assets that would cost well over $10 million to replace.

Many of our members are third and fourth generation RSC skiers and in 2010 we welcomed our first fifth generation member. 

Take a look at this short video made to show what was involved in getting up the mountain to the RSC Lodge or Hut, made in 2015 



Ski instruction has always been a priority for RSC members. Members published their own skiing handbook in 1946, readily encouraged the use of ski instruction when it became available. Almost every winter from 1960 RSC has hosted a visiting Swiss ski instructor at the Lodge, employed by RAL. The instructors were chosen first by Walter Haensli, and then some years later by Peter Prader and currently Hanspeter Angerer, our men in Klosters and Davos.  This has established a strong Swiss connection for RSC and very valuable, consistent ski instruction for the members.


Leo Jägli 1960 - 1961 Hans Hartmann 1962
Heinie Schuler 1963 Hans Marki 1964 - 1965
Nil 1966 Jaques Mariethoz 1967
Martin Monsch 1968 Peter Prader 1969
Jos Andrist 1970 Gerald Avanthay 1971 - 1972
Rudi Kaser 1973 Nil 1974
Jas Muller 1975 Hanspeter Angerer 1976
Jean Claude Meyer 1977 Hans Beyeler 1978
Adrian Graemiger 1979 Moritz Buchs 1980
Hans Beyeler  1981 Hans Jud 1982
Rico Gabathuler 1983 Andrea Fuhrer 1984
Rolf Matti 1985 Thomas Lindegger 1986
Kurt Jud 1987 - 1988 Reto Schonbachler 1989
Oli Muller 1990 Jann Kindschi 1991 - 1992
Jann Kuhnis 1993 Peter Jud 1994 - 1995
Tomi Dvorak 1996 Marcus Blum 1997 - 1998 - 1999
Jurg Streule 2000 Dumeng Andrist 2001
Adrian Baruffol 2002 - 2003 Helen Hanselmann 2004
Marco Arnold 2005 - 2006 Sämi Balsiger 2007 - 2008
Ueli Conrad 2009 Bruno Burger 2010 - 2011
Karl Karlgren 2012 Benedikt Gort 2013 
Florian Emmenegger 2014 Martina Zumstein 2015 - 2016
Oliver Froelicher 2017 Sereina Michel 2018
Loris Keiser 2019 Linda Rubi 2022