Fergusson Cottage Complex

State Highway 48 (Bruce Road), Whakapapa Village, Mount Ruapehu

  • Fergussons Hut.
    Copyright: Department of Conservation. Taken By: Glen Hazleton.
  • Fergussons Hut.
    Copyright: Department of Conservation. Taken By: Glen Hazleton.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7621 Date Entered 24th June 2005 Date of Effect 24th June 2005


Extent of List Entry

The registration includes Ferguson Cottage (including the 'Love Shack' built as the ablution block for Long Lodge in 1928) and the former bathhouse, and their original fittings and fixtures, and Lot 1, Deposited Plan 69560, Wellington Registry.

City/District Council

Ruapehu District


Horizons (Manawatū-Whanganui) Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 69560, Pt Okahukura No.8 Blk, Blk III, Ruapehu SD. (RT WN39D/927 (covers lots 1, 2, 3, and 6 on DP 69560, lot 7 on DP 69559, and lots 4 and 5 on DP 69562). Deed of Easement: WN40A/122 (covers Part Okahukura No.8 Blk, Sec I Blk III, Ruapehu SD), Wellington Land District

Location description

Fergusson Cottage is located in Whakapapa Village on the lower northern slopes of Mount Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park. It is sited on the western side of the Bruce Road (SH 48) up-slope from and across the road from the Chateau Tongariro, at an altitude of approximately 1140 metres above sea level. It is currently part of Fergussons Café.


Fergusson Cottage is situated on the lower northern slopes of Mount Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park. The Park was established in 1894 following the gift of the land to the Crown by the paramount chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Heuheu Tukino IV (?-1888). The Tongariro National Park Act of 1922 established the Tongariro National Park Board as the administering body.

In the early twentieth century, few people visited the Whakapapa area for recreational purposes. The lack of roads made access very difficult, and there were no accommodation or other facilities provided. Pressure for facilities came from followers of the new sport of skiing, which was first tried at Ruapehu in 1913, and from those who enjoyed increasingly popular summer recreational activities such as tramping and climbing. In 1920, a 22-bunk hut was built at Whakapapa to accommodate recreational visitors. A second, smaller hut supplemented it in 1922. In 1923 the construction of Bruce Road to Whakapapa began.

As access and facilities improved, more visitors travelled to Whakapapa to experience the alpine environment. By 5 February 1924 the Tongariro National Park Board (TNPB) had built a third hut at Whakapapa, known initially as 'No. 3 Hut', and later as Fergusson Cottage. Research has established that the building was constructed by the Prisons Department some time after August 1923. The Public Works Department may have designed the building, as it was involved with the bathhouse that was built adjacent to No. 3 Hut in late 1924.

This hut, and its separate bathing facilities, may have been intended for use by women in mixed parties: a 1927 description of the facilities cites a hut for women and a 1926 survey plan clearly identifies No. 3 Hut as 'Ladies Hut' and its bath house as 'Ladies Bath'. At this time it was felt desirable to have separate accommodation for the sexes. One woman who stayed in the hut was Lady Alice Fergusson, wife of the then Governor-General Sir Charles Fergusson. In August 1926, Lady Fergusson stayed for several days in the area, during which she skied, rode to the Tama Lakes and sketched. No. 3 Hut's name was changed to Fergusson Cottage to commemorate her visit.

Continued pressure for more accommodation resulted in the construction of a large hotel, the Chateau Tongariro, in 1929. It was owned and built by the Tongariro Park Tourist Company Limited, who also leased the Cottage and other Whakapapa buildings. The use of the Cottage changed to longer-term accommodation, and was used initially by tradesmen working on the Chateau, and subsequently for Chateau staff. The cottage was extended from its original two rooms by the addition of a lean-to at the rear, probably for a kitchen. This was built after the construction of the Long Lodge ablution block in late 1928: the ablution block's proximity (less than a metre away) influenced the shape of the lean-to.

A second, larger, structural change occurred in the late 1930s-early 1940s with another extension at the rear, comprising a bedroom, dining area, larger kitchen and with a door and porch to the west. At, or about the same time, the lean-to was modified as an internal bathroom and toilet, one of the two original rooms became a lounge with a new brick fireplace and external chimney, and the western fireplace and chimney were removed. Other minor modifications had occurred prior to this, mostly to the chimneys, which were re-designed more than once. The bathhouse was modified to become a wash-house/laundry, with a copper for heating water. These changes to the structure and use were in place by 1948, when Chateau staff members Alan Keane (store manager) and his wife Edie (accountant) moved in with their daughter Liz. The Keanes lived in the cottage until 1976.

The cottage remained as a permanent residence for Chateau staff until 1993, when it was modified to become a café. The modifications have affected the interior of the cottage, but the exterior is largely unchanged. It is now structurally adjoined to the Lodge ablution block, at one time also known as the 'Love Shack'. The café is run by KAH Ltd as part of the growing facilities being provided for the huge volume of visitors to the northern part of the National Park.

While the Chateau Tongariro is the dominant building at Whakapapa Village, Fergusson Cottage is significant as it represents an earlier phase of simpler accommodation. It has been described as 'the first real building' on the site , with its full-width verandah, timber cladding and cottage style. It was built facing north to take advantage of the view and sun, unlike the other buildings. Although it has lost some of its integrity with its new use and with the extent of the modifications, the cottage is the oldest remaining structure at Whakapapa Village. It is part of a precinct of late 1920s-early 1930s buildings including other wooden accommodation units and a brick garage that together represent the beginnings of recreation and tourism in this area of Tongariro National Park.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical significance:

The cottage, with its bathhouse, is the oldest remaining structure at Whakapapa Village. It represents the beginning of an era of greatly increased use of the mountain for recreation (especially skiing, climbing and tramping), sightseeing and tourism. It is part of the early development of Whakapapa Village, being the third building there, and the first to be constructed after the development of Bruce Road, which runs adjacent (and in the late 1920s terminated just past the cottage). It was the last of the humble, accommodation buildings built for visitors to Whakapapa Village, later buildings such as the Long Lodge and the Nunnery having their own facilities, and the Chateau being a far more substantial building to cater for a more sophisticated clientele. The history of the cottage is closely associated with that of the Chateau, being used for the accommodation of staff from at least the late 1940s, and probably from late 1929.

Architectural significance:

Built in the style of a simple, early colonial cottage with two rooms, a gabled roof, and a verandah across the front of the building, the architecture of Fergusson Cottage is unusual for its mountain setting. Other mountain huts of the period were more temporary, less domestic structures. The two extensions to the Cottage - the lean-to and a later rear wing - are typical of cottages in the 1920s and 1930s. The design met the requirements of ease of transportation of materials, ease of erection in an area under snow for part of the year, the provision of shelter, cooking and sleeping facilities, the ability to withstand severe environmental conditions, and ease of maintenance.

The Love Shack, built for functional purpose as an ablution block for Long Lodge (a larger accommodation building further up-slope), is utilitarian in style. Long Lodge, and its associated buildings, were designed by Herbert Hall. Original open drainage features still exist at rear of building.

Aesthetic value

The Cottage retains sufficient of its early style to evoke the charm of simple colonial cottage architecture. Its location is significant and provides a great contrast to the Chateau, built only five years later. It is the only building on the west side of the road to be placed so as to take full advantage of the magnificent, panoramic view, and to sit as if part of the terrain. (Other buildings are aligned to the road or diagonally across the slope.) The Cottage is one of a group of 1920s-30s buildings adjacent to each other on the western side of the Bruce Road and is an integral part of the whole. With the exception of the garage, which is built of brick, these buildings have been painted in a similar colour scheme to tie them in together. The interior tongue and groove floors and wall linings in the two original rooms also have significant aesthetic value.

Social significance:

The cottage was once termed the 'Ladies' Hut' implying it was used solely for women, to accord with the sense of propriety in the 1920s. Its associated ablution building was termed the 'Ladies' Bath House'. The cottage shows typical extensions and both buildings show adaptations as their uses changed over the years with the increasing use of the Whakapapa skifields and tourism. From temporary hut accommodation with separate bath house, the cottage was transformed into a permanent residence with improvements including an indoor flush toilet, bathroom, kitchen and an additional bedroom, with external wash-house (laundry). To satisfy demand from the increased number of visitors and as part of a nation-wide trend, it has been adapted as a café, providing food and drinks with indoor and outdoor seating. The wash-house is used as a storage room for the café.

The cottage, with the now-adjoining Love Shack, is significant in representing a new freedom in recreational activities and the enjoyment of the environment in a National Park. It has close associations with early groups using the Park, such as the Ruapehu Ski Club, the Tararua Tramping Club and school groups.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

Fergusson Cottage, its bathhouse, and the Love Shack, represent the early development of alpine sports and tourism, both now major industries, and the early development of facilities in New Zealand's oldest national park.

(b)The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

The Cottage is associated, by name, with Lady Alice Fergusson, wife of Sir Charles Fergusson, Governor-General of New Zealand 1924-1930. The name commemorates her visit in August 1926.

(f)The potential of the place for public education:

The Cottage provides a public space for display of historic photographs and information about the history of the cottage and of Whakapapa Village. The Cottage is ideally situated for an external interpretive sign, being placed by the main road and across the road from the DoC Visitors' Centre, and includes historic features that could be identified and described in more detail to provide insight into its history.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:

The Cottage itself is a rare type of historic place, being an early hut for trampers and skiers. In its second phase of use it served as accommodation for builders, and was then modified for permanent staff quarters. The associated bathhouse was built to provide separate facilities for women (that for men being built further away), and is a facility underrepresented on the NZHPT Register.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

The cottage, its bath house/laundry, and the Love Shack, are part of a precinct of 1920s-early 1930s buildings on the western side of the Bruce Road at Whakapapa Village. These buildings provided simple accommodation and facilities for ordinary people, and form a strong contrast with the Chateau, a contemporary building (1929) serving a similar function for a more sophisticated clientele. Their close association in time and function is accentuated with the similar exterior paint treatments, and they provide a tangible link with the early development of Whakapapa Village and ski fields on the mountain.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The Tongariro National Park was established in 1894 following the gift to the Crown by the paramount chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Heuheu Tukino IV (?-1888), of land encompassing the three mountains Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngaruahoe. The Park was administered by the Minister of Lands until 1914, when it came under the Department of Tourist & Health Resorts.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Tongariro mountains had been visited for recreational purposes by only a few people, as access was very difficult. For the Whakapapa area it involved a walk or horse trek of over 17 km from the nearest road and the Waimarino (now National Park) railway station on the Main Trunk Railway Line. The only accommodation available was former shepherds' huts. From the turn of the century, the construction of recreational accommodation facilities commenced. In 1901 a hut was built near Ketetahi Springs. The Waihohonu Hut was built in 1904 on the eastern side of Ruapehu, and in 1918 the first Mangatepopo Hut was built to the north.

The first skiers in the North Island tried the eastern slopes of the mountain in 1913, and promptly formed the Ruapehu Ski Club. In 1919 the Tararua Tramping Club was formed. The popularity of the new alpine sports grew, so that by 1920 a hut was provided by the Tourist Department at the area which had proven to be the most popular area for skiing, Whakapapa. (In the 1920s and 30s the snow levels were lower than currently, allowing skiing to take place quite close to the Whakapapa Huts.) This hut was the first building constructed in the area, and was aptly named Whakapapa Hut or No.1 Hut. Blyth Hut was built on the Ohakune side of the mountain in the same year. Demand for more accommodation grew, and in 1922 the Tourist Department built No. 2 Hut at Whakapapa. The two huts at Whakapapa were designed and built by William Salt with help from volunteers. No. 1 Hut could accommodate 22 people and No.2, 12 people.

The Tongariro National Park Act 1922 established the regulations relating to the Park and provided for its control and management by a board, the Tongariro National Park Board (TNPB). The Board included the Minister of Lands, the paramount chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, representatives of the Lands, Tourist and State Forest Departments and the mayors of Wellington and Auckland cities, amongst others. At the first meeting of the TNPB, held at Waimarino on the 25 January 1923, the accommodation issue was raised again, with calls for a large government-financed hostel. The Minister (the Hon. D. H. Guthrie) said that this was unlikely as other places such as the Hermitage at Mt Cook were not paying their way. However, he did agree to raise the matter with Parliament, together with possibility of erecting a few small huts in the interim. Discussion included the difficulty of access: it was suggested that the Prisons Department could assist with building roads. The sum of £1000 from the Bruce estate was offered to assist towards development, and Mr J. Gunson, the mayor of Auckland, suggested local bodies could contribute. The formation of the Bruce Road was in hand by 27 July 1923, partly financed by the R. C. Bruce estate.

On 3 August 1923, the TNPB authorized the expenditure of £400 for constructing huts. It can be inferred that this refers to the building of No. 3 Hut, even though the Minutes which record its completion do not refer to it as that: 'The chairman reported that the Prisons Department had completed the erection of two new huts at the Whakapapa and Mangatepopo sites, each containing 12 bunks and a fireplace'. The TNPB minutes and annual reports for the next two years do not mention any further construction that could be relevant and No. 3 Hut is in use by August 1925.

Therefore it seems that No. 3 Hut was built some time between 3 August 1923 and 5 February 1924 by the Prisons Department. The designer of No. 3 Hut is not known, but was probably the Public Works Department. No. 3 Hut was in a different style from the first two Whakapapa Huts, with its cottage format and full-width verandah as well as in its construction, the others having walls and roofs of corrugated iron. No. 3 Hut was built as two rooms, each with six bunks. These were probably built three-high as was the current custom.

The building was painted by 22 May 1924, with paint costing £6/0/9 supplied by the Public Works Department. An 'Interim statement of work done on huts' for £308/5/3 was submitted by the Prisons Department at this time. It might be inferred that other bills passed for payment by the May Board meeting such as the 'mattresses for huts' supplied by Oborn & Co., Auckland, blinds by Maple Furnishing Co., Auckland, and timber from the Kauri Timber Co., Auckland, also related to the new Whakapapa and Mangatepopo huts. Further timber was supplied by the Prisons Department at a cost of £8/11/2.

Improvements for visitors continued, with the provision of washing facilities. The initial suggestion 'that a bath house should be erected at the Whakapapa huts ... a plain wooden building [with a] partition in middle....' was agreed to and elaborated by Board member Bill Salt: '...I am in favour of the suggestion but if it will not increase the cost too much it would be better to have two separate buildings...'. Negotiations regarding the timing of the work, to be undertaken by the Prisons Department, and the quality of the materials were under way by late July 1924:

The cost of material and labour would be as follows:-

Plumbing materials, including baths etc £76 14 6

Timber, glass, iron, paint etc 34 19 -

Cartage 10 - -

Labour 20 - -

Contingencies 10 - -

£151 13 6

The chip heaters require to be of special design as per detail supplied by Mr Fairhall. ... Burt and Co. now offer to do the work for £10/9/6 per heater instead of £12 as formerly. The galv. iron baths quoted at £2/15/- each would be much too light; £3/17/6 would provide a much better article....

The water supply was to be piped from the adjacent stream, with one estimate for the plumbing amounting to £64/5/0. The Auckland firm of J. Burns & Co. quoted a much cheaper price of £3/17/6 for a chip or bath heater and probably received the order. The total estimated cost was £215/18/6 for the proposed bathhouse at Whakapapa (ie, just one building). The Board did not meet for a few months and records available do not clarify the decision to erect two bath houses not just one, nor the date of their erection, but two bath houses were built. These were situated adjacent to No. 1 and No. 3 Huts. By February 1925 the Board was setting the fee for a hot bath at 1/6, and a cold bath at sixpence. The annual report of the Board for 1924-25 reported: 'Two bath-houses fitted with porcelain baths and washbasins have now been erected where hot and cold baths can be obtained as required.' Another service was provided by May 1924: a telephone connection from Waimarino to No. 2 Hut.

The potential of the Park for tourism and increased alpine recreation was being recognised.Popular tourist guidebooks welcomed the new developments:

Among the first activities of the Board will be the erection of an up-to-date hostel, at a suitable spot on the mountain side, and the construction of a good motor road from the entrance gate to the site of the hostel.... Two additional accommodation huts are being erected - one at Whakapapa and the other at Mangatepopo.... The Whakapapa cottage is situated near the upper waters of the Whakapapa-nui Stream, five miles by rough cart track from the main road.

The intention is to popularise the Park as a winter as well as a summer resort. Already these mountains are visited by a great many people in the Easter season and during August for the snow sports of ski-ing [sic] and glissading, and the Board looks to the future when the Tongariro country will be a St. Moritz of the Southern Hemisphere.

Progress on the Bruce Road was slow with forming and culverting preceding the metalling by some months. The road was built by the Prisons Department, the men staying in camps in the vicinity. In August 1925 the first motorcar was driven to Whakapapa Huts, on a road that had been formed but not metalled. A year later, the Taumarunui Press reported: 'A large number of Taumarunui people visited the Park during the week-end and several cars were parked in the vicinity of the Whakapapa Huts which, with the exception of the last half-mile, is now approached by a good metalled road.'

A fourth building was completed by Christmas 1925: this was the large dining hall used also for social events and extra accommodation. It was situated on the east side of the Bruce Rd. But still there were demands for additional accommodation:

The accommodation at the huts was greatly overtaxed, the dancehall being used as a dormitory and the overflow being then accommodated in tents. A considerable number of members of the [Ruapehu Ski] club, as well as many other intending visitors, had to be turned away owing to lack of accommodation.

The facilities were described in more positive terms by Cowan in his guidebook commissioned by the Tongariro National Park Board:

The Whakapapa Huts are five miles from the main road, by a good metalled road, the Bruce Road...Here at Whakapapa, in a beautifully sheltered, partly wooded valley, there are three huts, or small cottages, with good wide fire-places - a great consideration in this mountain region - and bunk accommodation for forty-six persons; one of the huts is for women. There is also a dining and social hall, there are also some tents. The official caretaker and guide lives at Whakapapa. At present, pending further arrangements, visitors to Whakapapa and other camps must take their provisions, eating utensils, and blankets with them; mattresses and pillows are proved by the caretaker at Whakapapa. As to fuel, firewood is provided by the caretaker at Whakapapa.

Cowan's reference to one of the huts being for women is confirmed by a February 1926 survey plan that shows No. 3 Hut as 'Ladies' Hut' with 'Ladies' Bath House' adjacent. The Hut may have been used for women when there were mixed parties; it was also used by other groups e.g. school groups, the Tararua Tramping Club and the Ruapehu Ski Club.

One woman who stayed in the hut was Lady Alice Fergusson, wife of Sir Charles Fergusson, Governor General of New Zealand, 1924-1930, and daughter of the former Governor-General, the Earl of Glasgow. The impending visit was reported in one of the local newspapers: '... the next week or two will see an invasion of tourists from all parts of the Dominion. They will include Her Excellency Lady Alice Fergusson and a Vice-regal party, and a party of 16 Auckland girls.' No. 3 Hut's name was changed to Fergusson Cottage to commemorate her visit, but exactly when the name change occurred has not been established.

The chimneys in No. 3 Hut were altered more than once. The earliest known photograph of the hut shows the two chimneys to be of symmetrical but identical shape, but by August 1925 the western one has been altered. A complaint about defects in the equipment of the accommodation huts may have been referring to the inadequacy of the chimneys. A comment in the Ruapehu Ski Club's annual report for June 1926 indicates the reason: 'The large fireplaces in the No 3 Hut at Whakapapa have been altered and now the smoke nuisance in this hut is to a certain extent abated.'

Both chimneys had been altered to a third shape by 16 September 1926; they were again symmetrical. By September 1931 the eastern chimney has been removed and a new internal pipe chimney protruded through the roof. This was in place at least until Christmas 1937 . An existing patch in the iron sheeting on the roof reinforces this interpretation . By 1948 the chimneys and fireplaces had been altered again, with the complete removal of the western one and the erection of a brick chimney externally on the eastern wall. The brick chimney and new fireplace with its stepped mantelpiece may have been part of the conversion of the cottage for use a permanent residence in the late 1930s or early 40s. According to Liz Agnew who moved into the cottage with her parents Acker and Edie Keane in 1948, the new fireplace worked well: 'Fergusson Cottage was a very very warm and cosy place as Dad always had the fire going in the winter and there were panel heaters etc in the kitchen.'

The cottage's history was closely involved from 1928 with that of the Chateau Tongariro. It was included as part of the agreement made on the 27th August 1928 between the Tongariro National Park Board and the syndicate later known as the Tongariro Park Tourist Co. Ltd, to take effect 15 October 1928. The syndicate was 'to form a company and to commence building a hostel', with the agreement allowing them to lease No.2 area including:

all that piece or parcel of land in the Wellington Land District containing by admeasurement 1 acre 3 roods 17 perches ... known as the Whakapapa Huts site, Tongariro National Park, being part Okahukura No.8 Block, situated in Block III, Ruapehu Survey District and being the whole of the area numbered 2 on plan 89/5/R ... bordered red...

The lessee shall take over the buildings and other improvements on the No. 2 area ... and shall maintain and conduct all such buildings during the term of the lease as hut or cottage accommodation for visitors and guests to the satisfaction of the lessor.

Other clauses state that the TPTCL must not discriminate or refuse to accommodate anyone, must post charges, and must not increase charges without the approval of the lessor.

Work on the Chateau began in January 1929. Tradesmen working for Fletcher Construction Co. Ltd while building the Chateau in 1929 lived in the Whakapapa Huts, including Fergusson Cottage. The first addition to the cottage, the lean-to, may have been prompted by the need to make it more comfortable for the builders. Certainly the lean-to was built after the erection of the Long Lodge complex that opened in December 1928. The cottage and the Lodge's ablution block are only 0.6m apart at their closest points, and the lean-to's plan reflects this in the dog-leg (or cranked) shape of its eastern wall.

The Chateau was officially opened on November 1st, 1929. It is assumed, but not established, that the use of the cottage by Chateau staff began from this time. Modifications to make it more comfortable for long-term residents may also have begun at this time. These changes included the addition of a bedroom at the rear, a larger kitchen, an internal area used as a dining room, an internal bathroom and toilet in the former lean-to, the change of use of the eastern bunkroom to a lounge and the blocking of one front door. These changes had occurred by 1948 when the Keane family moved in. Alan (Acker) Keane was the store manager for the Chateau, and his wife Edie was the accountant. They lived there until Acker Keane's death in 1976. Since 1948 to 1993 there seemed to have been no significant changes to the cottage, either structurally or in its use.

By 1931 the Tongariro Park Tourist Company was insolvent. The lease of the land reverted to the Tongariro National Park Board. The TPTC property and chattels were assigned to the Board. The schedule of insured items includes huts but these are not specified. In a deed signed on 9 Feb 1932, under the 'Tourist and Health Resorts Control Act 1908 ... the whole of the movable property ... belonging to the Board ... has been assigned to and vested in the Minister [of Tourism]'. The Tourist Department took over the running of the Chateau and huts.

In 1992 the Department of Conservation commissioned a conservation report from Conservation Architect Chris Cochran. Cochran recommended that Fergusson Cottage should not be moved, that it was essential that particular elements and fabric features were retained and not altered in any significant way, and that it was desirable to retain other itemised elements and fabric features.

In 1994 Fergusson Cottage and the Love Shack were converted by the owners, KAH Corporation, into a café. The architects for this work were Chapple Architects, Palmerston North.

Most of the features listed as 'essential' by Cochran have been retained, with the exception of the wall dividing the two original front rooms. However, most of the 'desirable' elements have been removed: this includes the brick chimney, nearly all the doors and the kitchen cupboards. Nonetheless, the cottage and the Love Shack retain some of the ambience of the 1920s, and care has been taken to match new wall linings in the Love Shack, and new skirting boards and the new front door in the cottage, with the original appearance and materials. The adjoining lobby is in new materials.

The Love Shack was originally the ablution block of the Lodge (later called Long Lodge) built by the Tongariro Park Tourist Company between No. 1 and No. 2 Huts. It is likely to have been built at the same time as the Lodge in late1928 and the Lodge's dining and kitchen block (now Thompson Lodge) to the north ie down-slope from Fergusson Cottage. (The three buildings of the Lodge complex were separated by other buildings.) The first visitor 'checked into the Lodge on 14 December 1928. The new buildings provided much better facilities than the huts, with sheets and eiderdowns, ... housemaids ... and chef '. The Lodge and its outbuildings were designed by the Timaru architect Herbert Hall who later designed the Chateau.

By 1992 (and possibly as early as the 1950s) the Love Shack had been converted into two living units. It has now been converted again with only a portion of one interior wall remaining, which with a partition wall closes off one corner as a storeroom and porch for the collection of mail. The large open space thus formed serves as additional seating for café patrons. The room is connected, via a wide entrance in the north wall, to the new lobby as part of Fergussons Café.

The change of use of Fergusson Cottage reflects the changing use of the mountain environment, and the changing needs of visitors. Visitor numbers had increased to 800,000 per year by 1999, with a permanent resident population of 80 people.

Physical Description

Conservation Architect Chris Cochran in his 1992 report stated:

Fergusson Cottage is a simple gable-roofed structure with a verandah across the front (north) side of the building and a lean-to and a projecting wing on the back (south) side. The gable-roofed portion [is] the original building. The structure is timber framing with vertical board and batten sheathing; the rear wing has rusticated weatherboarding on the south and east walls.

The cottage was originally two rooms only, each opening to the verandah via symmetrically placed doors in the middle of the front elevation. Nearly half of the front wall of each room was taken up with two pairs of large double-hung sash windows, each with six lights. These windows would have maximised the natural light for each room, as well as maximising the view. Each room had a hearth with external chimney. From photographic evidence it seems that the style of the chimney was changed fairly soon after construction. The original chimneys are visible in an historic photograph.

The bathhouse was placed so that its entrance was only a few paces from the end of the verandah. The original method of heating water for baths was with a chip heater. Former resident Liz Agnew recalls that the building had a copper in the corner, which was used during the late 1940s-50s for heating water for laundry. The copper may have been installed in the 1930s when the cottage was converted to a permanent residence. There are two patches on the ceiling of the bathhouse which indicate the location of the chimneys for the chip heater and the copper.

Cochran's measured drawing shows on the western side a porch open to the north and with a wood shed on its south side. From his photographs it can be seen that the small lean-to and the porch also had vertical board and battens and the same style of windows as the original structure. The separate structure (the original bath house, used as a wash-house in 1992) close to the northwest corner of the cottage was also board and batten that 'match those of the cottage'. Cochran's plan and photographs show a single chimney, of brick, on the east side. The verandah rails are horizontal. The ceiling in the two front rooms is coved.

Although built a few years later and for a different purpose, the Love Shack has a similarity in its materials and some similar windows. 'The Love Shack is a single-storey timber framed building, clad with flush vertical boarding on the walls and corrugated iron roof - it was designed by the Timaru architect Herbert Hall, as the ablution block for the Lodge.' At its closest point the Love Shack is only 0.6metres from Fergusson Cottage.

Current: The buildings have been modified as per the plans by Chapple Architects so that the Cottage is now joined to the Love Shack by means of a flat-roofed lobby that serves as the main entrance. The external materials of the front of the entrance lobby are glass in aluminium framing, and brick pavers. The glass, in two fixed panels either side of a pair of doors, is full height and width. Paint colours echo those on the Cottage. The front of the lobby does not protrude beyond the front wall of the Cottage or the Love Shack, but the roof of its porch does.

Internally, the new lobby is an irregular 5-sided room with its longest wall forming the front wall, in glass. A wide doorway to the west opens directly into Fergusson Cottage; on the southeast side a flight up four steps leads up to the Love Shack, which can be closed off with a pair of wooden sliding doors. These doors are in the same style as the sliding doors from the Cottage to the toilet lobby and from the toilet lobby into the toilet. The floors of the lobby and its porch are paved with modern brick pavers. Ceiling and walls are unpainted plywood.

Several of the interior walls of Fergusson Cottage as described in Cochran's 1992 plan have been removed or partially removed to create an open plan layout and/or wide doorways. Beams support the structure in their place, in such a way as to preserve the coved ceilings in the original two front rooms. The sloping ceiling of the lean-to is visible in the work area behind the serving counter. There is a small step down from the customer side of the serving area ('coffee 2' on Chapple plan) to what was the back bedroom ('coffee 3' on plan), and another step down from coffee 2 to the servery.

The new toilet and its lobby, in the position previously taken by the back porch and wood shed, have recycled windows. The new front door and frame were modelled on existing ones. The double-hung sash windows in the front elevation are original. The left-hand door is original, the other a new replica. The external doorsteps of the two doors have different profiles. Light switches, door handles, fittings, plumbing fixtures, cupboards are all new. The architraves in coffee 2 and 3 appear to be original ie 1930s. The skirting board in coffee 3 also seems original: it is 135 mm high and has an asymmetrical profile, different from that in all other rooms. The window frames in the former back bedroom and kitchen are original.

There are a few diversions from the plans by Chapple Architects: the replica chimney and gas fire planned for the west wall in coffee 1 were not built; the window in the toilet has been placed in the west wall. The wall between kitchen and back bedroom/coffee 3 has a small, framed window through which staff can view patrons.

The exteriors of all three buildings are painted, with the main colour being shades of light green, features a darker olive green. The washhouse roof is brown, and the roofs of the Love Shack and Fergusson Cottage are an apple green. The colour schemes are similar for the other historic buildings in the complex on the western side of the Bruce Road, except for the garage, which is brick.

The washhouse is used as storage for café supplies. When inspected it was full of boxes, but it could be seen that at least some of the wall linings and floor are the original timber. No plumbing fittings were visible.

A rotary clothesline behind the cottage is relatively recent. Remnants of old concrete paths exist. The brick steps leading up to the verandah were extant in 1993 (see plan). The garden in front of the verandah has been planted with cottage plants and natives, and the area in front of the cottage has been landscaped relatively flat to allow for several picnic tables for the use of café patrons. The setting of the cottage has changed considerably: the road is sealed, much widened and has shrubberies of native plants alongside the footpaths. These obscure the buildings from the road and create a different environment from that in the historic photographs.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1923 - 1924
The precise date for No.3 Hut is not established, but expenditure for it was authorised on 3rd August 1923 and it was built by 5th February 1924.

Addition of lean-to after construction of ablution block for Long Lodge (Love Shack).

1925 - 1937
Alterations to chimneys, removal of eastern chimney; internal chimney?

1935 - 1948
Addition of wing at rear; removal of western chimney; new eastern chimney in brick; brick fireplace with steeped wooden mantles; blocking of right-hand front door; filling-in of ends of verandah; horizontal verandah rails.

1993 - 1994
Alterations to use as café including joining cottage to the Love Shack: removal of most internal wall, addition of supporting beams;


Alterations to convert from ablution block to two accommodation units.

1993 - 1994
Conversion to café: removal of all interior walls (except for one section that was concrete); installation of new walls to create one main area for café seating, a storeroom and a closed back porch;

Removal of chimney and large part of eastern wall to create opening into new lobby, making good of walls and floor;

Removal of porch and woodshed, and replacement with toilet/bathroom with lobby, reinstating another front door in position of original;

Removal of kitchen cupboards and fittings, installation of new work benches and appliances;

Installation of servery counter, and work space behind counter.

New wall linings in keeping with the original on the other walls; wide opening made in north-western wall to form entry from new lobby, removal of plumbing fixtures.

Construction Details

Fergusson Cottage: Timber walls in board and batten construction, with rusticated weatherboard on the rear extension. Corrugated iron sheet roof. Timber verandah with tongue and groove floor. Detail of foundations not known.

Sloped ceiling of first lean-to visible in servery work area. Beam from front wall to another beam above servery counter shows position of original wall. Wooden floor visible in original front rooms. Tongue and groove wooden wall lining on front, east and west walls in original two rooms. Two front doors are tongue and groove with a clear glass window. Coved ceilings in two original front rooms.

Windows: front (original, 1923-24): double-hung sash with 6 lights per frame; windows in extensions: side-hinged casement.

Wooden sliding doors lead from serving area to toilet lobby and from toilet lobby to toilet. Doors have three vertical inset panels and one horizontal panel.

Bath House: Timber walls in board and batten construction

Corrugated iron sheet roof. Detail of foundations not known.

Wooden floor, tongue and groove wooden wall linings and ceiling. Concrete doorstep with diagonal-hatched scoring to enhance grip. Two windows: one in middle of north elevation, and one beside door on east elevation.

Love Shack: Timber framed building, clad with flush vertical boarding on the walls. Hipped corrugated iron roof.

Windows: casement. Ceiling: soft board panels

Detail of foundations not known.

Lobby connecting Fergusson Cottage with Love Shack: Irregular, five-sided room with longest wall to the front is fixed glass with a pair of glass doors opening to the exterior. The glass is framed in aluminium. Sliding doors at top of short flight of stairs to Love Shack are in the same style as the sliding doors inside the Cottage.

Flat roof. Floor paved with modern brick pavers. Ceiling and walls are unpainted plywood.

Completion Date

15th February 2005

Report Written By

Lyn Williams

Information Sources

Bradbury, 1923

E. Bradbury, (ed). The settlement and development of the King Country, New Zealand: early settlement, industries and resources, scenic attractions. Auckland, N.Z. :E. Bradbury & Co., 1923.

Cochran, 1993

Chris Cochran, Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park; assessment of historic values. Unpub. ms. prepared for the Department of Conservation, Tongariro/Taupo Conservancy, 1993

Cowan, 1927

James Cowan, 'The Tongariro National Park, New Zealand' Wellington, Tongariro National Park Board, 1927.

Esler, 1965

A.E.Esler, (ed.), Tongariro National Park, New Zealand, Wellington: Tongariro National Park Board, 1927.

Graham, 1963

J.C. Graham, Ruapehu: Tribute to a Mountain. Wellington: A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1963.

Williams, 1987

Karen Williams & Dave Bamford, Skiing on the volcano; Ruapehu Alpine Lifts and Tourism Resource Consultants, 1987.

Conservation Plan

Conservation Plan

Chris Cochran, 'Fergusson Cottage, Whakapapa, Tongariro National Park', Conservation report. Unpub. ms. prepared for the Department of Conservation, Tongariro/Taupo Conservancy, 20 November 1992.

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Central Region Office.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.