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Source: New Zealand Government

Cabinet has agreed to provide $7 million to ensure the 2024 ski season can go ahead on the Whakapapa ski field in the central North Island but has told the operator Ruapehu Alpine Lifts it is the last financial support it will receive from taxpayers.

Cabinet also agreed to provide $3.05 million in equity and loan funding to support the sale of Tūroa ski field assets to Pure Tūroa Ltd (PTL).

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones says the decision provides more certainty for Tūroa, and a final opportunity for Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) to find a commercially viable solution for Whakapapa, on the other side of Mount Ruapehu. 

“The Government cannot indefinitely sustain the ski fields. That is why Cabinet is signalling a clear end point. If no acceptable commercially led solution can be found within the next year, there will be no additional government funding for RAL’s Whakapapa ski operations,” Mr Jones says.

Cabinet’s agreement to provide Pure Tūroa with $3.05 million to buy Tūroa’s ski field assets relies on Pure Tūroa obtaining a concession from the Department of Conservation (DOC). If successful, PTL will continue to operate Tūroa’s ski fields commercially.

“The concession process for Tūroa ski field is underway. If the concession is granted, PTL will operate Tūroa ski field commercially,” Conservation Minister Tama Potaka says.

The ski fields of Mount Ruapehu contribute significantly to the central North Island economy, Mr Jones says.

“The support announced today provides certainty to local operators and communities that the 2024 ski season will run on both sides of the mountain.

“Snow tourism is a large employer in the region, supporting an estimated 880 full-time equivalent jobs and a regional visitor spend of about $100m each year.