Ruapehu Ski Area’s Future Unclear as Potential Buyer Withdraws

Mona Mohammed
Published 2 weeks ago on 8 February, 2024
Future of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts uncertain as buyer backs out

The “Future of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts uncertain as buyer backs out” headline has cast a shadow over the Whakapapa skifield’s prospects. Tom Elworthy and his associates, once seen as the government’s top choice to take over the assets of the Whakapapa skifield on Mount Ruapehu, have stepped back from the deal. This unexpected turn of events raises questions about the skifield’s operations for the upcoming winter season and its impact on the local economy.

Key takeaways

  • Tom Elworthy’s group withdraws from purchasing Whakapapa skifield.
  • Whakapapa skifield faces over $15 million in debt and operational risks.
  • Government previously invested $20 million to support the skifield.
  • Local economy and tourism sector heavily reliant on skifield operations.
  • Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and officials are addressing the issue.
  • Ruapehu District Mayor Wes Kirton expresses local businesses’ concerns.
The future of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts remains in limbo following the withdrawal of the preferred buyer, leaving the community anxious about the economic implications and the upcoming ski season’s viability.

Future of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts

The abrupt exit of the prospective buyer for Ruapehu Alpine Lifts has left the region bracing for potential economic fallout. The skifield, a significant contributor to the central North Island’s economy, is now at a crossroads. Local businesses, particularly those tied to tourism, are voicing their concerns as they face an uncertain winter season without the skifield’s usual influx of visitors and revenue.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has acknowledged the situation, with ministers Tama Potaka and Louise Upston, the MP for Taupō, actively working to find a solution. The government’s involvement underscores the skifield’s importance to the region, but concrete plans to secure its future are still forthcoming.

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Challenges in Securing New Ownership

The “Future of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts uncertain as buyer backs out” situation is complicated by the need for a new operating concession from the Department of Conservation. While a 10-year concession was on the table, with a review at the five-year mark, the financial burden and associated risks have deterred potential investors. The skifield’s debt and operational challenges have proven significant hurdles in attracting a new owner.

Ruapehu District Mayor Wes Kirton has highlighted the complexities of negotiating new ownership due to the different mana whenua connections. The area’s unique cultural and iwi relationships add layers to the already challenging negotiations, further complicating the path to a resolution.

See: Emergency Threatens Future of Small Town in Southland

Aspect Detail
Debt Over $15 million
Government Support $20 million in recent funding
Economic Impact $100 million turnover for local industry
Concession Term 10 years, with a 5-year review
Cultural Considerations Complex iwi relationships

The future of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts remains uncertain after the buyer backs out, leaving the Whakapapa skifield’s fate hanging in the balance. The community is now looking to government officials for guidance and support as they face the potential loss of a key economic driver. With the ski season approaching, the urgency to find a viable solution is mounting, and all eyes are on the unfolding developments that will shape the future of this beloved winter destination.


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