How do you move 2,400 people up Mount Ruapehu's Whakapapa skifield in one hour? You've got to build a bigger, faster ski lift.
But Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is a public benefit entity – it’s a not-for-profit that is restricted from providing a return to shareholders – and operates in a challenging risk environment. That makes it more difficult to raise money through conventional means.
So local government, investors, and the Provincial Growth Fund stepped in to help, the PGF chipping in a $10 million loan.
The gondola has the potential to become the ‘must do’ attraction for the central North Island, forecast to generate 500,000 additional visitor days by 2025. It's projected to generate 150 jobs for building and operating the gondola, and potentially a further 400 through related activities. And it's not just restricted to ski season, either – taking in the breathtaking views from Whakapapa is something tourists can do all year round.
2,400 passengers can be transported per hour in 10 person cabins – a journey that will take five minutes.