The Downhill Ski Club was founded by members of the Professional Club in Auckland in the early 1960s. The lodge was built above McMillan corner on the National Downhill Slope, the area to the west of the Top o’ the Bruce which got its name after the national downhill championships were held there in 1932.
A 1000m rope tow was installed by Jimmy John and Roy Turner of Ski Services ltd on the National Downhill in 1960. In 1965 the Tongariro National Park Board gave Jimmy John permission to replace his tow with a T Bar and also permitted RAL to install an access chairlift and a poma lift to the west of the area. In 1975 RAL bought John’s National Downhill operation. Until that time the club had bought power from Ski Services Ltd. The club installed its own Lister 3 cylinder generator.
The lodge had the highest swimming pool in the country and a diesel fired boiler was used to heat both domestic and pool water. The pool was decommissioned in 1973 due to the oil crisis and a floor was built over it turning it into a games room with a pool table and table tennis table. The pool still exists and is used to store fire wood today.
Debentures were raised in the early 1980s to fund a major revamp of the lodge. The bedrooms were rebuilt, the kitchen was moved, new couches were purchased and the lodge was fully carpeted. The drying room was enlarged and a new ski workshop created. All the windows were repositioned and replaced, the building was re-clad and given a new roof.
In 1989 the club purchased a second lodge in National Park. This allowed members to ski Turoa more easily and avoid the late night tramp into the Ruapehu lodge on Friday nights. Over the years the National Park lodge has been extensively enlarged and renovated.
In 1994 the West Ridge Quad and the Far West T bar were electrified and the Ruapehu lodge was connected to the national grid, now the generator is only used for backup power. In 2008 it was used for three days after a digger at the Far West Quad destroyed the main power cable.
In October 2006 the National Parks Act came into effect and black water (sewage), even if treated was no longer allowed to be discharged anywhere in a National Park. Due to the distance from Iwikau village DOC decided it was impractical to connect the Downhill Ski Club to the new sewer line. As a result the Downhill Ski Club and two other clubs was given a five year extension to sort out an alternative. The Club installed an incinerating toilet in the 2012 ski season.
After years of trying to hand control of the Whakapapa lodge to anyone who would take it the club decided to relinquish its licence to occupy the site. The site has to be cleared so the club decided to wind up with the proceeds of its assets going to DOC to pay for demolition.
The club went into liquidation 29th November 2021.