Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is delighted to have received approval to continue operating the Whakapapa Ski field on Mt Ruapehu for an initial term of 30 years and six five year extensions. The new licence was signed this week by the Chair of RAL, Murray Gribben, and the Deputy Director General Partnerships of the Department of Conservation, Kay Booth.

Murray Gribben, Chair of RAL, said: “The licence includes all the existing activities, buildings and structures and new plans that have previously been approved for construction.   This is a fantastic result for RAL, Whakapapa, and our community, the term structure enables our performance to be reviewed at regular intervals, and is a powerful tool to enable us to provide the ongoing investment in the major infrastructure required to operate a ski area to a high standard and deliver a unique customer experience”.

“The initial approval in principle, and the more than 700 submissions we got in support of our application, gave us the confidence to continue working on our investment plans. In particular I would like to single out the support we received from Ngati Tuwharetoa who have worked closely with us. Our strengthening relationship will underpin our operations on the mountain. The support from the Ruapehu District Council has also been fantastic”

“As a result of that support we can announce today the decision   to replace the Centennial and Rockgarden double chairlifts with a new quad Express Chairlift that will run on the same line as the Centennial double chairlift. This will be completed over the summer and be ready for our customers next winter.”

“We have also purchased a used fixed grip quad chairlift which will replace the Waterfall T Bar and run on the same line. This installation is planned for the summer of 2016/17, and we plan to have it operational for the 2017 winter.  Over the next few months we will be lodging applications for the necessary consents and approval.”

“Without the certainty of a licence to operate beyond 2019 the company has been unable to make   investment decisions.  With the new licence and the security of tenure we are able to trigger these new investments in much needed upgrades that will meet expectations of skiers and boarders of the 21st Century. It is great news for all our stakeholders – customers, staff, shareholders and the local communities” Mr Gribben said.

Ruapehu District Mayor, Don Cameron said: “The new licence removes a great deal of uncertainty for the community, and we are very pleased with the outcome.

“RAL is a key contributor to employment in the region and contributes $15 million annually to local GDP from its mountain operations as well as substantially boosting the off-mountain economy in regional tourism and recreational activities”, Mayor Cameron said.

RAL was established in 1953 and has been a constant presence on the mountain since that time contributing to the stewardship of this World Heritage site, operating both the Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas within the Tongariro National Park.

Lou Sanson, Director General of Department of Conservation noted “I am very pleased with the developing relationship between RAL and Ngati Tuwharetoa and how this is reflected in a Relationship Agreement between the two and a licence which includes the ability to earn extensions to the term.  I am also excited that RAL will be continuing to offer the recreational experiences which enable many of us as New Zealander’s to engage in the Tongariro National Park.”

Murray Gribben said: “RAL has clear aims and aspirations for the ski area – a high quality tourism product that cements our place as the ski area most visited by New Zealander’s.  We are excited that, with the new licence, we can continue to make New Zealand’s best ski field even better.”

– See more at: