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'Mt Ruapehu ready - and there’s plenty of snow' - Ruapehu Alpine Lifts

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

An excited team at Mt Ruapehu is ready to welcome back guests following yesterday’s announcement of a drop to Alert Level 2 for the region.

The previous Alert Level 3 status had allowed maintenance and safety services teams to work on the mountain and add to their focus of managing health and safety requirements by also working on facilities and getting ready for re-opening tomorrow, weather dependant.

RAL CEO Jono Dean says, "Alert Level 2 is a game changer for us at Mt Ruapehu as we can all return to the maunga and invite you back to join us too - although unfortunately Aucklanders will have to wait a bit longer. All lifts, including the Far West T and Nga Wai Heke, are ready to go, conditions permitting.

"Opening the ski fields under Alert Level 2 does come with some restrictions though. We will need to operate our ski areas at a lower daily capacity limit to meet social distancing guidelines, which are in place to ensure the safety of guests and staff."

This means that capacities will be reduced to 2,550 guests at TÅ«roa and 3,050 at Whakapapa. "While this is down on what we would consider a ‘busy’ weekend day, which can attract up to 5,000 guests, these capacity limits sit comfortably above our average daily numbers, excluding closed weather days, of approximately 1,900 guests each side," Jono says.

"Weekdays will still be the best days to visit the maunga when there will be less people on the ski fields."

Jono asks people to be patient and follow guidelines and instructions of staff on the mountain, for everyone’s safety. "We’ve successfully operated at Level 2 before so a lot of people know the drill already and we’re asking that they stringently follow the Alert Level 2 guidelines once again."

At Alert Level 2, there will be no need to book parking. RAL will manage the capacity limits as above and operate a one-in, one-out approach to parking if and when that capacity is reached. "We expect higher visitor numbers on the weekends and this one-in, one-out out approach will be more likely to be in play then," Jono says.

RAL is committed to preventing the spread of Covid-19 and as such, there are some further rules to follow at Alert Level 2 on the maunga:

Don’t visit if you’re ill - please stay home, rest up and come back when you’re feeling better, having observed all Covid-19 health and safety recommendations.

Face coverings are required on all lifts and in queues - you’re used to this from visiting everywhere from supermarkets to botanical gardens, so please keep it up while you’re on the slopes for everyone’s safety. We’d also like to encourage the use of face coverings at all other times where reasonably practicable.

Everyone must scan or sign in - there will be QR codes around the plaza at each ski area and additional unique ones will also need to be scanned at certain facilities. Use those to support contact tracing.

Be patient - as stated above, we’re going to have to limit capacity to support physical distancing protocol. This will also include limited number in the likes of cafés. Please follow any signage and direction provided by staff.

Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.

Be positive - we’ve missed out on too much snow, let’s work together to stay safe and ensure we can max out the rest of the season.

"With lots of new snow and more in the forecast, and still half of the winter season left there’s plenty of opportunity to ski in 2021. We’re really keen to see everyone back enjoying the mountain," Jono says.

Exactly what the remainder of the 2021 ski season will look like, what parts of the mountain will open and when, is yet to be determined, by not only the progression through the Alert Levels but also Mother Nature and snowfall.

See the Mt Ruapehu website and Facebook pages for regular updates.

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