Reopening of Mt Ruapehu welcome relief for Central North Island region
Taupō District and Ruapehu Mayors David Trewavas and Don Cameron are calling the reopening of Whakapapa and Tūroa skifields this winter a welcome relief for their tourism sectors, heavily impacted by COVID-19.
The Sky Waka Gondola will also open from Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas said Mt Ruapehu is an important attraction for the Central North Island.
“As a tourist destination, we know it is going to be a long road ahead for us. A third of employment in the Taupo District is related to tourism.
“Reopening the ski fields and gondola offers an important opportunity to attract local tourists from all over the country.
“We need to use that to our advantage while our borders remain closed to international tourists. Now, more than ever, we need to see kiwis exploring their own backyard.”
Ruapehu District Mayor Don Cameron said the ski fields and gondola play a vital role in the local economy.
“With every dollar being spent on the mountain rippling through to $5 of spending in the wider economy this will provide a significant financial shot in our regional economic arm,” he said.
“As well as the positive spending impact the opening of the ski areas will provide a lot of local employment opportunities both on and off the mountain.
“The news is already providing a major boost to personal and business confidence with people hoping for some great snow and sunny days.”
Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Chief Executive Jono Dean said they are looking forward to welcoming skiers back to the slopes and sightseers back to the Sky Waka.
“At this stage we’re looking at around late June, early July to open the ski fields, however, this will depend on a number of factors, including snowfall,” he said.
“Our operations will be different to what visitors may have previously experienced, and we are working through our facilities and what we will be offering for winter 2020.
“Physical distancing, contact tracing and increased cleaning and sanitation requirements will be in place to ensure the safety of staff and visitors to the ski fields.”