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Ruapehu Ski Transport to operate Mt Ruapehu shuttles this season

Get set to ride a new fleet of 4WD buses to the ski areas on Mt Ruapehu this season.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts has undertaken a transport pre-qualification exercise and awarded a 5 year exclusive supply agreement for the public transport shuttle services Taumata Ikaroa.

The new brand Taumata Ikaroa is a partnership between Te Urungi o Ngati Kuri Ltd, the commercial arm of Ngati Kuri Trust Board, and Sand Safaris with a placeholder being held for Iwi/Hapu on the mountain. Taumata Ikaroa will bring its unique Far North transport offering to the ski fields of Turoa and Whakapapa. The new, purpose built and designed, four wheel drive buses are already a feature of the visitor experience in the Far North, the service provides exceptional levels of comfort and safety.

Taumata Ikaroa (The Milky Way) speaks of the traditional authority that Ngati Kuri has as Kaitiaki of Te Rerenga Wairua and similarly to those hapu/Iwi who are kaitiaki of Ruapehu, their spiritual portal.

The new 2019 service starts on July 4 with the fleet of brand new 4WD buses. Tickets will cost $20 per person return and are available from the ticket machines at the Park and Ride locations in National Park and Ohakune and some bus pick up locations. Tickets can also be purchased on mountain or at the Mt Ruapehu Snow Depots in Taupo and Ohakune. More than $5 million of investment has been made into the new fleet, which is comfortable, safe and has less emissions, something crucial in operating this service in a UNESCO Dual World Heritage National Park. The new buses will also meet the new Alpine Vehicle Specification and Code of Practice.

RAL took a lead role coordinating an industry-wide review and the development of this new Alpine Vehicle Specification and Code of Practice with the New Zealand Bus and Coach Association to ensure the increased risks of operating on alpine roads are clearly understood and well managed by operators across New Zealand’s alpine areas. Operators have agreed to voluntary standards which lift safety across road management practices, vehicle selection, equipment handling and storage, and driver recruitment and training. "Public Transport is widely acknowledged as a core part of a sustainable transport solution for the ever popular Tongariro National Park,” says RAL CEO Ross Copland.

"It’s critical that the public have confidence in the safety, capacity and environmental credentials of this service and RAL has worked hard to ensure the solution in place for 2019 and beyond is deserving of the trust and confidence of visitors to this UNESCO Dual World Heritage Area."

Taumata Ikaroa partner Garth Petricevich is looking forward to working around the mountain this winter. "Our 4WD buses are ideal for the alpine environment with under carriage storage for equipment, seat belts and large windows for taking in the incredible views of Mt Ruapehu. We’ve invested in new buses specifically for this purpose and we’re confident that our customers will appreciate the quality of our service."

The Tongariro National Park Management plan places significant emphasis on developing a public transport service for the Park to reduce the environmental and social impacts of congestion. This has been widely supported by the community and iwi and remains a core principle for the long-term management of the Park. "The upgraded bus service combined with other new facilities such as the Park and Ride transport hub in National Park Village will provide greater options and levels of service to visitors,” says Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron.

"Improvements to public transport is a critical factor in meeting increasing environmental, safety and service expectations and improving the visitor experience of the Tongariro National Park and we thank RAL for their significant investment in this area."

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