March 29, 2003
Its selection of accommodation is almost as varied as the surrounding landscape. You can stay in the hostel wing, sharing a dorm or a private double room; the main lodge in a standard or deluxe motel room; or away from everyone in a shared cabin or chalet.
Prices range from NZ$20 per person in a dorm room to NZ$205 for a 4-person chalet in the winter (high season). A standard double room in the lodge, where we stayed, cost NZ$110 (US$58). Oddly, it was the same cost as staying in a private double room in the smelly hostel wing with its creaky floors and paper-thin walls.
The front desk is centrally located between the hostel and the motel units in the lodge. The staff was friendly, helpful, and efficient in checking us in and making reservations for our meals and transportation to the Tongariro Crossing (NZ$15) and National Park's train station (NZ$15). Both shuttles picked us up at the front door. They also took reservations for the hot tub. Internet access is available in the lobby for NZ$2 per ten minutes.
To the left of the lobby is the lodge's dining room/bar. Spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and tall grasses appear beyond the windowed walls. Upstairs a game room looks over the dining area. It's a comfortable space, and one that's used frequently judging from the worn couches, pool tables, and chairs. To reach the other recreational area, the popular outdoor hot tub, you need to walk through the hostel, out the kitchen, and across the rocks to the glassed-in gazebo.
Lodge rooms are down the hallway from the dining room. We were pleased with our standard room. It had everything we needed and more. We slept soundly both nights (maybe it was the exhaustion from tramping), as the bed was comfortable and the air refreshingly clean (we'd been in Rotorua the night before--and kept awake by worsening sulphur smells permeating through sound walls). And the color television even had great reception up in the mountains. The room was spotlessly clean and quiet.
Breakfast was a continental buffet of granola, yogurt, coffee, and juice, but you could order a hot meal after 7am--although they won't take your order till 7:10am--even when you're standing and waiting (im)patiently by the register. Shuttles leave at 7:30am for the Tongariro Crossing, so you'll stress a bit if wanting to wolf down some protein before the big trek. But, it can be done.
The Skotel was a good place to stay and I'd stay here again. Great views and rooms. It was centrally located near the rest of the tiny village, which means that the Visitor Center and Ferguson's Coffee Shop are just three blocks away. And great little walks depart nearby leading to rivers, waterfalls, and beautiful forests.
From journal Tramping in Mordor... volcanic Tongariro National Park