RAL now have the green light to make some announcements on what you can expect at Mt Ruapehu this winter.
They were able to have limited maintenance staff working on mountain preparing the ski areas when they moved to Alert Level 3, and the numbers were increased at Alert Level 2. Mt Ruapehu are now preparing to open both Turoa and Whakapapa Ski areas on 1st July 2020.
This will be subject to snow conditions.
There is still a lot of work to be completed to make Mt Ruapehu a safe and healthy place for guests and staff, and obviously still some unknowns in the mix regarding Alert Levels and required protocols at time of opening.
RAL have been saying for some time that winter 2020 will not look like a normal winter at Mt Ruapehu so what does this mean?
From Mt Ruapehu, Whakapapa & Turoa Ski Areas:
All ticketing will be online. There will be a very limited opportunity to purchase on-site but there will be no cash on the mountain this year. Any payments will be card only in all of our outlets including retail and food and beverage. We ask that you please jump online and purchase your lift passes before you reach the mountain, and use the Click and Collect machines on-site to collect your lift passes.
Due to the time lost through lockdown, alongside the inability to bring in overseas expertise to work on some of our lifts, this means we will not be able to open every lift this season. Our focus has been on offering top to bottom skiing at both ski areas, with a beginner focused offering at Whakapapa’s Happy Valley.
At Whakapapa, the following lifts will be in operation:
|•||Happy Valley Carpets|
|•||Rangatira (Weekends and inclement weather days)|
At Turoa, we will be operating:
The Valley T-Bar and Parklane/ Wintergarden may open later in the season dependent on demand.
Whilst we recognize this might be some disappointing news for some of you, we had to make decisions based on a number of factors including: top to bottom skiing, reliability of the lift, ability to complete maintenance required and length of season we get from each lift.
As a result of not every lift operating, we anticipate that our maximum daily capacity will be lower than usual so we can still account for physical distancing and spacing on the ski area and in our cafes. We will be releasing more information on this as we get closer to the season, but do not anticipate this will have much of an impact on Season and Life Pass holders. We are also encouraging mid-week skiing as much as possible to avoid those inevitable bluebird Saturday crowds!
First Tracks will not go ahead this season. For those of you who have purchased this upgrade as part of your Season Pass, our team will be in touch regarding a credit or refund. We have listened to your feedback on this product, and whilst we still see some merit in offering a Fast Track pass first thing each morning, we will be reviewing this for 2021.
Night Skiing was introduced at Whakapapa a few years ago, and whilst the feedback has been positive, the take up of this experience has been very low. We have decided to not proceed with it for winter 2020 due to the fickle nature of our weather and inability to offer a reliable night ski product, and the subsequent pressure this adds to our financial position. This will be reviewed again for 2021.
Transport & Shuttles
RAL will not be offering customer shuttles for this season. With the reduced capacity on the mountain, we see little need for a scheduled large capacity service, so will instead be recommending the local operators who can coordinate smaller numbers when the road is restricted.
Details can be found here: Visit Ruapehu Shuttles
Staff and employment
Sadly, with the borders closed, we won’t be joined by our overseas ski whanau this season – so this will naturally leave some gaps in our teams. Fortunately, we have been able to retain all of our permanent and summer staff through the lockdown, and we have a great bunch of returning staff who will be able to fill some other vacancies. Anyone who had an existing application with us prior to the COVID-19 lockdown will be contacted before positions are re-advertised to reconfirm your interest in employment. There may be some gaps however, and these will be advertised on our Jobs page on the website as soon as we have confirmed our returning staff for winter 2020.
Our permanent team have all made sacrifices through lockdown, accepting a reduction in pay and hours, in order to ensure we have a winter season and it’s important we acknowledge their continued efforts to provide a great experience on the maunga this year. It hasn’t been an easy few months for them or our company, but we’re really pleased to be able to confirm winter 2020 will go ahead and we’re looking forward to welcoming you here soon.