Thursday, May 30, 2024
HomeGeneral TourismFresh snow greeted Happy Valley ski field visitors

Fresh snow greeted Happy Valley ski field visitors

Mother nature turned the switch to snow in perfect timing for Saturday’s opening of Mt Ruapehu ski field’s Happy Valley the first in the country to open to the public.

Hundreds of people headed up the mountain for a day of fun in the snow, made possible by a combination of the mountain’s snow making machines and natural snow fall.

“Today has been exceptional for our Queen’s Birthday opening,” Whakapapa GM Jono Dean said on Saturday. “We don’t normally get natural snow fall and are completely dependent on the snow factory.

"We have been very lucky that mother nature delivered snow overnight to enhance the beginner ski and ride experience for the first day of winter 2019.

“Today we’ve had 150 skiers and riders and another estimated 200 visitors to our cafes and to touch the snow. In saying that we won’t have sledding until we have another few days of both natural snowfall and snowmaking.”

Meanwhile progress continues with the Sky Waka and the haul rope for the gondola has been installed. This involved pilot lines (which are smaller in diameter) that were already in place being used to pull the main haul rope up, and then back down the other side of the lift where the rope was carefully spliced together. The spool containing the haul rope weighs approximately 48,000kg.

Last week the final two of 14 towers forming the base of the pathway for the new gondola were installed and, at this stage construction conditions permitting, the Sky Waka is scheduled to be finished by the end of June.

The Sky Waka will run from the Top of the Bruce base area directly to the Knoll Ridge Café. It will transport 2,400 people per hour over the 1.8km in approximately 5 minutes.

The new high-speed Sky Waka features 50 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 Café. 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.

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