INDEPENDENT NEWS

Changes, challenges and new beginnings at Mt Ruapehu

Published: Thu 31 Oct 2019 05:04 PM
MT RUAPEHU, 31 OCTOBER 2019: It’s been a season of challenges, changes and new beginnings on Mt Ruapehu with an exciting summer ahead.
Mother Nature hasn’t been overly obliging in delivering consistent and good weather this season, instead turning on storms, wind and icy conditions, but a lot of fun was still had by all on the slopes.
The highlight of the season has been the opening of the new state-of-the-art Sky Waka gondola at Whakapapa, which to date has welcomed 31,884 people on board, taking them from the Top of the Bruce directly to Knoll Ridge café in as little as 6 minutes.
“It’s exciting the Sky Waka will be operational throughout the summer giving sightseers a great trip up the mountain for amazing views and to sample New Zealand’s highest dining spot,” says Mt Ruapehu’s GM Sales & Marketing, Michelle Caldwell.
“The Sky Waka not only opens up a new year-round sightseeing opportunity for visitors but also has created jobs for locals and is generating revenue for hotels, motels, bars, restaurants and sightseeing transforming the region into a year-round destination.”
During the ski season mountain guests also sipped on 8,136 hot chocolates at Knoll Ridge Café, devoured 6,579 of the Snowflake Café’s gourmet hamburgers and quenched their thirst with 15,693 Corona beers.
Other interesting mountain facts which reflect the challenging weather conditions encountered this season are:
The mountain’s ski fields required 6,140 hours of paid de-icing this season.
Whakapapa:
• 24 days in August the winds were over 100km/hr
Turoa:
• 18 days were clear and fine
• 13.2m precipitation – rain, ice and snow
• Highest wind speed was 270km/hr
• 74 blue dye days (average 7-9L per year, this year 33L used. This environmentally friendly dye is laid to guide people down the mountain when the visibility is poor
• Closed for 30 days due to poor weather
“We are at the mercy of mother nature on the mountain and have to work the best we can with the conditions to ensure a safe skiing and visitor experience. That is the added thrill and challenge of working in an everchanging mountain environment,” says CEO Jono Dean.
With the ski season now closed the summer will see work begin on the $2 million upgrade of the iconic Giant chairlift at Turoa, signaling the beginning of a number of upgrades planned for the ski field.
And as far as changes, drawing to the close of the season former Whakapapa Ski Area General Manager Jono Dean was appointed the new CEO of RAL after Ross Copland resigned to head to the South Island for new challenges.
Looking ahead to 2020 Season Passes are on sale with Mt Ruapehu aiming to entice more people to give snow sports a go as well as encouraging skiiers to head up the mountain during the week to avoid the crowds.
Skiers and riders have the choice of two options: a Mid-week Season Pass which is valid Monday – Fridays, allowing visitors to avoid the busy weekend traffic and enjoy uncrowded laps during the working week; and an Anytime Season Pass which can be used all week during the winter operational season.
Every Season Pass also has the added benefit of four Buddy Passes which give a 50% discount off a full day lift pass and can be passed to friends and family. All season passes can be used at either Turoa or Whakapapa and also include night skiing at Whakapapa on Friday & Saturday nights (when available).

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