HomeNewsPure Tūroa granted decade-long DoC concession for Tūroa Ski Area

Pure Tūroa granted decade-long DoC concession for Tūroa Ski Area


This weekend the Ruapehu ski industry welcomed news of a decade-long permit to save one of its ski fields, with the Department of Conservation granting Pure Tūroa Limited a 10-year concession to operate the ski field near Ohakune.

Pure Tūroa Limited, a local business collective, were given the green light to take over the Ruapehu ski field, independent of the sister resort at Whakapapa.

On Saturday Conservation Minister Tama Potaka announced the new operator’s application had been successful, saying it ensured that this year’s ski season would go ahead with the new concession holders.

“The concession means the public can continue to enjoy the recreational benefits available in the Tongariro National Park – one of the most majestic places in the country – for years to come,” said Potaka.

This comes two years after original operators 70-year-old Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) went into liquidation, putting the future of North Island skiing in doubt. RAL were permitted to continue as a caretaker during the receivership process in 2023.

Around $20 million in government bailouts were given to RAL over 18 months while the search for a permanent solution continued.

Now there appears to be a clear path for at least half of the mountain.

View up the mountain at Turoa Skifield . Photo / Supplied

Directors of Pure Tūroa Cameron Robertson and Greg Hickman said they were delighted to be finally able to deliver on plans for the ski field – after several “false starts”.

“We are absolutely thrilled that we’re finally here and that we can start communicating with everyone about the upcoming season at Tūroa,” said Robertson on Saturday.

The company had already been carrying out summer maintenance work in anticipation of the ski season, which is only months away.

The decision was made following a four-month review by the Department of Conservation – Te Papa Atawhai and consultation with local iwi.

A previous offer to buy the field from receivers was met with an objection by representatives of the Ruapehu/Whanganui hapū grouping Patutokotoko. Signatories of the objection included members of the Tūroa family, who did not approve of a private company trading with their name.

The Conservation Minister said that the iwi’s concerns had been given ample consideration by the DoC concession to operate a ski business on the maunga.

“The summits of all maunga in Tongariro National Park are especially important for the iwi and hapū as well as all New Zealanders. That’s why [Pure Tūroa Limited’s] concession includes provisions for the Department of Conservation to carry out enhanced monitoring and a three-year review to ensure the field is operating effectively and in a way that benefits everyone,” said Potaka.

Pure Tūroa takes over the concession previously held by RAL as well as its operations on the southwest of the mountain.

Whakapapa, the other ski field included in RAL’s liquidation, remains in the care of the receivers.

What will happen to Life Pass holders?

The previous operator Ruapehu Alpine Lifts had sold a number of “Life Pass” providing holders with unlimited skiing “for life”.

Also granting shareholder rights, these costly passes were also important during the voting process for the future of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts during the receivership process.

As of November 30, 2020 there were 14,000 life passes in the company’s database. Each holder paid around $3950 into RAL for a pass.

During voting last year Pure Tūroa said it was unlikely to continue the programme.

“RAL has historically used Life Passes as a mechanism to raise capital. This worked for a time but our financial modelling shows that that well has run dry,” they said.

“For a commercial company, we don’t see it as sensible to effectively sell your future revenue at a very discounted price for a short-term gain.”

The Nga Wai Heke Chair has been removed by Pure Turoa for 2024, saying it could not justify its upkeep. Photo / Supplied

Where is the Ngā Wai Heke Chair?

When Pure Tūroa published their proposed 2024 ski map there was consternation over an apparently shrinking ski area.

The ski lift on the south side of the resort, served some of the more advanced terrain including The Triangle – which was voted as New Zealand’s fifth favourite ski run in a Herald Travel poll last year.

However, insights showed that less than 15 per cent of visitors traversed out to this side of the field.

“Maintenance requirements along with very low customer demand render this lift uneconomic to retain long-term,” said the ski operators.

This was also in the interest of scaling back on physical infrastructure on the mountain – a commitment made with iwi.

While this ski area will still be patrolled and within bounds, Pure Tūroa said it would be focusing on more accessible and cost effective parts of the field.

The Giant Lift is also earmarked for removal at the end of a 10-year lifespan.

“Our new plans will deliver an uphill capacity approximately where it stands today, but with far better operational efficiency,” says the Pure Tūroa website.

This article was republished courtesy of our media partners NZME