Move to market Great Lake Taupo as hub for premier ski offering

A plan to transform Great Lake Taupo into New Zealand’s premier ski destination has gained full support from Taupo District Council who approved $100k of funding for the next two years to help bring the dream to reality.

In a presentation from Ruapehu Alpine Lifts chief executive Ross Copland, councillors heard the company’s $100 million dollar plans to put Mt Ruapehu on the world stage as the country’s ski region of choice. Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields had some significant points of difference to the ski offerings of the South Island and it was time they were capitalised on, he said.

Part of the company’s plan was to transform Taupo into a destination hub for snow seekers by offering two retail offerings as well as a shuttle service that would leave for the mountain from town every 30 minutes, stopping in Turangi en route. 

There would also be significant wider economic benefits for the Ruapehu District as the proposal included a free shuttle service from both Whakapapa Village and National Park to the Whakapapa ski area, and from Ohakune to Turoa.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts was also planning on gaining a strong foot hold in the Australian tourism market and was working with Tourism New Zealand and Destination Great Lake Taupo to ensure the upcoming ski season - and many more to come – brought in crowds who were offered an experience to remember.

On the mountain, the company was bringing in world-first, technology that would allow snow to be made in temperatures up to 25 degrees. It was reinventing the learner experience at Happy Valley by installing new carpet lifts and elevator access and new beginner terrain was also being opened up appealing to a broad range of visitors new to winter sports. Construction of $45 million worth of new base area facilities and a gondola were entering the consent stage and night-skiing would be relaunched at Whakapapa after a long hiatus.

However, for the project to be a success, there needed to be strong community support and an investment from the council to help fund a marketing campaign led by Tourism New Zealand, Mr Copland said.

“We need to position ourselves as a key player in the New Zealand ski industry by becoming the new emerging ski region for the Australian market and demonstrating to the North Island domestic market that Ruapehu is back.”

Mayor David Trewavas said the offering by Ruapehu Alpine Lifts was the one of the biggest economic development opportunity the district had seen for some time.

The ‘game changer’ had been the renewal of the company’s licence on the mountain and their vision and drive to bring the long-term plan to fruition was one that the council was united in supporting.

“We have the potential to be the primary winter resort town to service visitors to Whakapapa and that will bring with it a number of benefits,” he said.  “We know our district has a lot to offer and this has the potential to put us on the world stage as a ski destination of choice.”

Destination Great Lake Taupo chairman Ray Salter said Ruapehu Alpine Lift’s initiative strongly aligned with the tourism marketing organisation’s recently released long term strategy and “truly represented the next big thing for the district”.

“The direction Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is taking will truly transform the Taupo District into a premier winter destination for both New Zealand and Australian visitors,” he said.

The opening of the 2017 ski season is planned for June 3, a month earlier than usual as a result of the snowmaking investment. 



David Trewavas
Taupo District Mayor
027 570 7918

Ross Copland
Chief executive Ruapehu Alpine Lifts
027 838 9399

Damian Coutts
General manager Destination Great Lake Taupo
027 644 1130

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