Ruapehu skiing, 3 June, thanks to new snow factory

Happy Valley will be open on Saturday 3 June. That’s the promise from Ruapehu Alpine Lifts for this year, after the redevelopment of the beginner ski area that includes new access, three new lifts and an innovative new snowmaking ‘factory’.

With increased snowmaking, RAL plans to open the Whakapapa Lower Mountain the following week, on 10 June.

Turoa Ski areas and the upper Whakapapa areas are due to open on Saturday 1 July.

New Ruapehu Alpine Lifts chief Ross Copland introduced himself to Ruapehu District councillors at their meeting in Ohakune on Wednesday 23 February and gave a run-down on changes to the ski areas.

The biggest change, among many, is the purchase of a ‘Snow Factory’ – a snowmaking system inside a portable container that can make snow in any temperature up to 25°C, and make 210m3 of snow a day.

This means that RAL will be able to make snow to cover the Happy Valley beginner area so that they can set an opening date, regardless of the conditions.

“It allows us to guarantee our opening day.”

He said a lot of the concerns in the holiday industry with bookings is around the uncertainty about opening dates.

“We can guarantee when the snow is going to arrive because when we turn the machine on, it will arrive.”

Mr Copland says the developments mean exciting times for the Company but also the wider tourism industry in the area.

The lift capacity in Happy Valley will more than double, with three new beginner lifts to be installed.

The double chairlift that provides access to the Valley is to be replaced with two 26-person elevators that will be more than double the capacity of the chairlift, while also providing easy access for families with young children and people who are less mobile.

Ross Copland said this year’s $13 million investment is “quite deliberately” into beginner facilities.

The next area to open will be the lower mountain area – the Rockgarden and Tennants Valley runs – where the snowmaking capacity this year will be tripled.

Posted: Tue 28 Feb 2017