Tuesday, February 27, 2024
HomeGeneral TourismAccolades roll in as Sky Waka opens to the public

Accolades roll in as Sky Waka opens to the public

Clear blue skies greeted the first Sky Waka gondola riders at Mt Ruapehu yesterday morning with accolades rolling in from mountain visitors.

The Sky Waka wowed riders as it travelled up the mountain to Knoll Ridge Chalet covering 1.8 kms through one of the North Island’s most rugged and spectacular landscapes.

Sky Waka is New Zealand’s newest and most exciting tourism attraction and travels from the Top of the Bruce base area directly to the Knoll Ridge Chalet. At peak times it will transport 2,400 people per hour over the 1.8km in approximately 5 minutes.

Locals as well as visitors from as far afield as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sri Lanka enjoyed the gondola ride and scenery. A very excited seven-year-old Charlie Fry and his mother Victoria McAnulty from Pukekohe queued for over an hour to be the first on the Sky Waka.

"We were first in the queue at Whakapapa this morning to get on. Super excited, beautiful day!" says Victoria. And Charlie loved it.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts CEO Ross Copland says the gondola is one of a kind in New Zealand and transforms the mountain visitor experience lifting it to a whole new level. "Sky Waka is the culmination of years of planning and today is an exciting day for not only mountain visitors but also the region as whole."

The Sky Waka project has been made possible with the help of a loan from the Provincial Growth Fund and also brings with it a huge economic boost for the local economy through accommodation, restaurant and other sightseeing activities. It also opens up a lot of job opportunities for locals all year round.

Sky Waka has fifty gondola cabins with floor to ceiling glass for breathtaking views, internal ski racks, audio and lighting and individual leather seats. It offers 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. Until the upper mountain ski fields opens Sky Waka will only be operating for sightseeing.

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 five 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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