Gondola part of $100m Mount Ruapehu plan
A $100million skifield development, complete with a gondola, is planned for Mount Ruapehu after Ruapehu Alpine Lifts secured a 60-year licence for Whakapapa skifield.
Other plans include upgrading Whakapapa's T-Bar chairlift to a quad chairlift, ready for next season, and a new express lift and a cafe for Turoa.
"We were thrilled that our licence at Whakapapa was renewed for up to 60 years and feel confident that Turoa's licence will be secured during 2017," RAL chief executive Dave Mazey said.
"It means we can roll out a planned $100m infrastructure upgrade programme.
"Between the two ski areas, a range of infrastructure will be upgraded."
The development plans includes a 1.8km, eight-seater gondola, estimated to cost around $37million. This will run from the base of Whakapapa to Delta Corner on the upper field and aims to boost tourism during the off-season.
Plans are that the gondola will be ready in 2018.
Mazey said the upgrade has already started with the installation of the Rangatira Express, which replaced the Centennial and Rockgarden Chairlifts at Whakapapa in December last year.
"Turoa changes won't roll out until we resolve the licensing issues," he said.
"We are pretty hopeful that it's in place."
The Minister of Conservation has given notice of her intention to grant RAL with a 60 year concession for Turoa ski field.
RAL chairman Murray Gribben said with no certainty around the Turoa licence, they had halted all capital investment other than what was required for health, safety and environmental responsibilities but he was thrilled the licence might be granted.
"This structure enables our performance to be reviewed at regular intervals and is a powerful tool to enable us to provide the necessary ongoing investment in major infrastructure required to operate a ski field to a high standard," he said.
"RAL has clear aims and aspirations for the ski-field - a high quality tourism product that enhances Tongariro National Park and bring strong value to our communities."
Mt Ruapehu also announced they will be selling life passes once again and this will give keen skiers and snowboarders lifetime access to New Zealand's largest ski areas.
Mt Ruapehu life passes were last offered in 2006 and were snapped up.
The life passes went on sale today and will only be available until October 10. Life passes are priced at $3950 each while a Life pass plus is $5150 and can be transferred to another person within 10 years of purchase.
Marketing manager for Mt Ruapehu, Michelle Caldwell, said enquiries on the life passes have flooded in and responses on social media have been phenomenal.
Life passes can be purchased at www.mtruapehu.com