7 Dec 2022

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts: Government to hand ski fields operator another $6m

4:22 pm on 7 December 2022
Skiers on a chairlift at Turoa ski field.

Skiers on a chairlift at Turoa ski field. Photo: RNZ

The government will give a further $6 million to the cash-strapped Ruapehu Alpine Lifts to avoid it from collapse.

In a statement today, Minister for Economic and Regional Development Stuart Nash said more time was needed to explore options so liquidation could be avoided.

"This comes following the survey of life pass holders, which indicated some support, but fell short of the funding required to support a new entity to operate the Tūroa and Whakapapa ski fields, which means more time is required to secure funding for a new entity."

The $6m would enable alternative solutions to be developed and provide enough to retain the organisation's management team and was in addition to the $2m already given by the Crown.

"By providing this bridging finance we will be able to maintain staff who are critical to the maintenance of the assets on the mountain, and enable it to operate next winter," Nash said.

"We are fully invested in exploring all options as we recognise the significant detrimental impact on the both the economies and wellbeing of local communities especially Ohakune."

Life pass holders willing to help

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment also asked Ruapehu Alpine Lift's voluntary administrators to forward a letter and non-binding survey form to the ski fields' lifetime pass holders to find out how many would provide funding support if a proposed new entity went ahead.

The new entity would operate the Tūroa and Whakapapa ski fields, including the Sky Waka gondola. The survey closed on Thursday 24 November.

In order to raise the necessary funding, it would have required a positive response from at least 6000 lifetime pass holders (or a little over half of the estimated 11,000 active lifetime pass holders, all of whom were sent the survey).

About 4500 lifetime pass holders responded to the survey and 2937 indicated they were willing to contribute $2500 now.

Of those respondents that indicated a willingness to contribute $2500 now, 2614 responded that they were willing to contribute $250 per annum for the next two or three years.

This represented a potential $7.34m now and $650,000 per annum of new funding from lifetime pass holders.

A separate, independent survey of the general public undertaken by the company's voluntary administrators was understood to show potential for additional capital to be raised from this group.

Further investigation would need to be undertaken to assess whether these results could be materialised, given the broad nature of the survey.

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