The National Park Village business community has welcomed Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) being granted a new license to operate Mt Ruapehu's Tūroa Ski Area

"The license renewal will now allow RAL to go ahead with much needed upgrading of facilities at Turoa - New Zealand’s second largest ski area," says Murray Wilson, chairperson of the National Park Villages Business Association.

The Association, which represents businesses in National Park Village, Whakapapa Village, Raurimu and Erua, was pleased to support Ruapehu Alpine Lifts through the submission process, says Wilson.

"The new licence will provide further confidence to local businesses for on-going development to meet visitor demand in both summer and winter, as well as the employment opportunities which will in turn support their communities."

In a statement announcing the licence renewal, RAL chief executive Ross Copland called the agreement between RAL, Ngāti Rangi, Uenuku and the Department of Conservation historic.

"To have security of tenure is of huge significance to the company. With less than five years to run on the existing licence, it was essential that we reached this agreement to allow us to invest, ensuring that Tūroa continues to anchor the winter economy of Ohakune and the wider Ruapehu region."

The licence has an initial term of 25 years plus seven five-year extensions totalling 60 years. It follows the renewal of the Whakapapa Ski Area licence in December 2015, which resulted in a $100 million investment plan that included the relaunch of Happy Valley beginners area this year.

Ngāti Rangi Chair Shar Amner and Uenuku Chair Aiden Gilbert say they are both looking forward to working with RAL in line with their Relationship Agreements. “Our priority is to further establish agreed key initiatives and performance measures that not only protect but, continue to enhance the health and wellbeing of Koro Ruapehu”.

The new licence includes protection of the peaks, waterways and their sources. Both Iwi Chairs agree that upholding their cultural values has been paramount to discussions.

Read the full statement from RAL here.