Knoll Ridge Chalet

Tongariro National Park

The Knoll Ridge Chalet on Whakapapa Ski Area is New Zealand’s highest café. If you’re not skiing or boarding, you can access the Knoll Ridge Chalet via a brand new $25 million gondola.

At 2020m above sea level, with breathtaking views of the Pinnacles and valley below this award-winning architecturally designed café was awarded the Design Curial Best Designed Café in the World, 2015.

The architecture

Perched dramatically on a cliff edge and cited on New Zealand’s largest active volcano, the Knoll Ridge Chalet is an incredible feat of design and engineering! An ambitious design and build was initiated in 2009 to replace the original café which was destroyed by fire earlier in the year.

The project had a unique set of challenges – the harsh remote environment, including winds up to 220kph and temperatures well below freezing, rapidly changing weather, and limited road access meant the project required extensive logistical programming in order to ensure the safe delivery, placement and erection of materials – all performed via helicopter.

The form of the Knoll Ridge Chalet building reflects the strong geological features of the mountain. The “gull wing” roof was to appear to “cradle” the mountains peak. On a practical level the roof is used to manage the snow. The building is designed to cover with up to 3m of snow.

The building accommodates café seating for approximately 400 people with servery, kitchen and support facilities all on one level. At this same level, a deck area for approximately 200 people is provided. 

The café

Led by award-winning chef Jude Messenger, the café offers multiple dining options using locally sourced ingredients. From market fresh grab-and-go meals and coffee to a high-end buffet, guests can enjoy the sunrise and set themselves up for the day with a delicious breakfast, rest their legs over lunch and stay into the evening to wine and dine as the sun sets across an unforgettable panorama.

Getting to the Knoll Ridge Chalet

The Knoll Ridge Chalet is accessible to sightseers via a brand new $25 million gondola which opens end of June.

+64 7 892 4000
Physical address:
Whakapapa Ski Area
Top of Bruce Road
Mt Ruapehu
Tongariro National Park