10 Sep 2019

Ruapehu ski operator 'suppressing competition'

From Nine To Noon, 9:38 am on 10 September 2019
Turoa ski field

Photo: 123RF

Some business owners in the central North Island say Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is abusing its tax-free status and using its monopoly to suppress competition. RAL operates Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields on Mt Ruapehu and is a public benefit entity paying no tax, with all profits going to developing the ski areas. This year it opened a new $25 million high-speed gondola on Whakapapa, but has faced criticism from mountain users over long queues at both ski fields and not enough lifts being open. Last week, five people were injured and three airlifted to hospital when blocks of ice fell on them from the roof of a toilet block at Tūroa. Now, the Commerce Commission is looking at a complaint from retail operator Mike Wiggins that RAL has breached the Commerce Act by setting up retail stores in Ohakune and Taupo, where it competes with local businesses, but does not pay tax.