Sky Waka gondola to reopen for Queen's Birthday weekend

Sky Waka gondola to reopen for Queen's Birthday weekend

The Sky Waka gondola at Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu will for be opening for sightseeing trips during this Queen's Birthday weekend, while ski areas are expected open in late June or early July.


National Park Villages, blog post, Sky Waka gondola to reopen for Queen's Birthday weekend, Jono Dean, CEO, RAL - Jono Dean, CEO, RAL

The Sky Waka gondola at Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu will for be opening for sightseeing trips during this Queen's Birthday weekend, while ski areas are expected open in late June or early July.

The gondola stopped running in March as New Zealand moved into the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown and will be open for sightseeing only from Saturday, 30 May to Monday, 1 June, weather permitting.

In a statement released today, Ruapehu Alpine Lift (RAL) said it had planned to open the Happy Valley beginner ski area on 30 May in time for Queen’s Birthday weekend as usual.

However, it could not make this with happen due to the preparation, maintenance and staff hiring time lost during the lockdown.

"While we understand it’s disappointing for those of you looking forward to your first outing on the slopes that we’re not open over Queens’ Birthday weekend, we encourage you to still come and enjoy the other incredible experiences on offer in our region," says RAL.

Opening dates

RAL hopes to open its first ski area on Mt Ruapehu in late June or early July.

This will be dependent on a number of factors, including snowfall and the Alert Level restrictions that exist at the time.

"At this stage, we are planning a season that will see both Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields open every day the weather permits with top to bottom skiing and riding, but it is likely that not all lifts will operate," RAL says.

"Be assured that our team is working hard to prepare for the season on mountain, and off mountain, the behind the scenes planning also continues with the ski industry confirming late last week that following its work with Government, ski areas can operate for the 2020 season under Covid-19 Alert Level 2."

More detail will be revealed on the RAL social media channels and website at a later date.

Level 2 requirements

RAL CEO Jono Dean, NZSki CEO Paul Anderson and Cardrona Alpine Resorts General Manager Bridget Legnavsky have been working with government on behalf of the industry to clarify how ski resorts will operate under level 2 requirements this year.

"It has been a comprehensive process but one that has demonstrated collaboration across the entire industry in an unprecedented time, and the outcome is that the industry has agreed specific guidelines for ski resorts to allow them to operate safely under Level 2," says RAL.

"As we get closer to the opening of our ski areas, we will be releasing more specific information on what you can expect when you visit this season and how you will be able to help us to keep within these protocols."

Click here for a video message from RAL CEO Jono Dean.


Posted in Latest News on 19 May, 2020