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Hundreds flock to Mt Ruapehu for Happy Valley opening

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Hundreds of visitors headed up Mt Ruapehu over the long weekend to enjoy the first snow of the season at Happy Valley.

Whakapapa GM Jono Dean says, "Skiers, snowboarders and sightseers all enjoyed a great season opening at Happy Valley, with a dusting of snow overnight Sunday, along with fresh man-made snow, capping off a great weekend’s fun. Snow is also in the forecast again late this week."

Mt Ruapehu offers skiers and snowboarders the longest scheduled winter season in the country, operating through until Labour Weekend in late October.

The Brockelbank family from Lower Hutt, Wellington enjoyed their first taste of snow for the season and some great skiing.

Leanne Brockelbank says, "It’s the best way to spend time with the family. The kids just all get along happily, you can have your own free time or join together and the whole day is just bliss, pure bliss no arguments, happy family time."

The Skeer family from Turangi and Patterson family from Auckland were also excited about donning their ski gear for the first time this season and enjoyed the fresh snow.

An estimated 1,200 skiers and snowboarders enjoyed Happy Valley over the long weekend, along with about the same number of sightseers.

The snow base in Happy Valley is currently 8cm with more snow needed before the remainder of Happy Valley is open. At the moment one carpet lift is open with a trail that is growing wider each day due to snow making, grooming and natural snow fall.

Whakapapa and TÅ«roa ski fields are due to open in late June and the new Sky Waka is also scheduled to be finished at the same time.

The new high-speed Sky Waka features fifty Sky Waka gondola cabins with floor to ceiling glass for breathtaking views, internal ski racks, audio and lighting and individual leather seats offering business-class luxury to passengers befitting of the UNESCO Dual World Heritage status of Whakapapa Ski Area. Each cabin accommodates 10 passengers and even the tallest skiers will be able to stand upright in the cabin with more than 2m of internal clearance. The Sky Waka will run from the Top of the Bruce base area directly to the Knoll Ridge Chalet. It will transport 2,400 people per hour over the 1.8km in approximately 5 minutes.

As a public benefit entity RAL invests its proceeds back into developing the mountain's facilities and the new gondola forms part of the $100m reinvestment strategy announced by the RAL board in 2015.

The Sky Waka project has been made possible by a loan from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

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