In the beginning …
In 1969 a small group of keen skiers realised that belonging to a university ski lodge with riotous drunken orgies going on into the small hours after a hard day’s skiing, was not going to suit their future lifestyles, complete with spouse and children.
Desperate to attain a family- and child-friendly foothold on their beloved volcano, this dedicated band raced into action and secured one of the last building sites at Iwikau (Whakapapa).
Filled with enthusiasm, they chatted up all and sundry, 150 of whom found themselves building Serac Ski Club lodge for the princely sum of $100 each.
Endless hours of backbreaking toil ensued. The loyal band astounded nearby mountain visitors by erecting a new lodge on the edge of a precipitous drop down into the carpark. These cynical viewers had to eat their words when Serac skiers took to the slopes from their own lodge the very next winter.
The roof comes off
In 1977, nature took a hand and blew most of the roof off the lodge, leaving the lounge and bunkrooms a depressing mess of broken timber and three feet of snow. Undaunted, the Seracians organised the rebuilding and improvement of the Whakapapa lodge.
How we got the Ohakune lodge
The insurance company, keen to see a speedy end to the lodge repairs, agreed to pay the club a cash settlement to oversee completion of outstanding work itself. By doing this largely with club labour, the club saved a substantial amount of money. Along with money from the sale of the club’s land at Methven near the Mt Hutt ski field,
Serac was able to finance and build its second lodge at Ohakune.
Each year, twenty percent of the members come up in a ballot to do a summer workparty to help maintain the lodges. People and their skills are matched to the work needing to be done. Workparties are a lot of fun and are a good opportunity to enjoy the mountain environs during the summer.
The club was founded by members who wanted a lodge available for their own skiing, and also for their partner and children in years to come. Serac has continued to be a club that welcomes families including children of all ages and teenagers.
The lodges are run on a cooperative basis, where everyone contributes to the domestic work needed each day. A Trip Leader is appointed for each weekend. They allocate the bunk spaces and ensure that chores are fairly allocated, and that a friendly atmosphere prevails.
Serac members are a friendly bunch who enjoy catching up with old friends and welcoming new members and guests.
“Serac” is French for an ice spire in a glacier. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines a “serac” as “one of the castellated masses into which a glacier is divided at steep points by the crossing of crevasses.” (It goes on to say that the word comes from Swiss French, and was originally the name of a kind of white cheese).