Big changes ahead

Adventure - - Contents -

Whaka­papa’s Happy Val­ley Snow Park will be blan­keted in pris­tine white snow a month ear­lier than usual this year after a big in­vest­ment in snow­mak­ing, bring­ing jobs and eco­nomic growth ear­lier than ever. Happy Val­ley will open from June 3 (Queen’s Birth­day Week­end) thanks to a cut­ting-edge new snow­maker, the Techno Alpin SF210 Al­lWeather Snow­mak­ing sys­tem. “This is the first and only ma­chine of its kind in New Zealand. At $1.7m, it didn’t come cheap but be­ing able to pro­duce 210m3 of snow daily, in tem­per­a­tures up to 25°C, is an ab­so­lute game-changer” says Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) CEO Ross Co­p­land. The ex­tended sea­son is just one of the big changes afoot over the up­com­ing ski sea­son at Mt Ruapehu. For the past few decades’ ac­cess down the 20m cliff into Happy Val­ley has been via a small dou­ble chair­lift. Now, the chair­lift is be­ing re­moved to make way for twin 26-per­son, high speed Schindler El­e­va­tors which will pro­vide dou­ble the ca­pac­ity of the cur­rent lift. Fur­ther adding to the Happy Val­ley ex­pe­ri­ence are three new state-of-the-art Sunkid Car­pet sur­face lifts, dou­bling the lift ca­pac­ity and elim­i­nat­ing queues; two of which will fea­ture Per­spex dome en­clo­sures to pro­vide shel­ter on windy days. “These will be the most ad­vanced car­pet lifts in New Zealand with an op­er­a­tor sta­tion networking all 4 lifts to­gether us­ing CCTV cam­eras and cen­tralised re­mote con­trol. This will pro­vide guests with the ul­ti­mate in safety and com­fort re­in­forc­ing Happy Val­ley’s well-de­served rep­u­ta­tion as New Zealand’s pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion to learn to ski and snow­board” says Co­p­land. Kids of all ages will be ex­cited to try out the new Snow Park in Happy Val­ley. The park fea­tures its very own cov­ered sur­face lift and an as­sort­ment of to­bog­gans and snow-toys to en­sure mas­sive smiles for the whole fam­ily. Turoa and Whaka­papa rid­ers don’t miss out ei­ther. The in­tro­duc­tion of 24 mas­sive TF10 snow gun’s will al­most dou­ble the snow­mak­ing ca­pac­ity at Whaka­papa while Turoa trails will be bol­stered with 7 ad­di­tional snow guns. The big snow­mak­ing in­vest­ment opens up early sea­son ski­ing in Ten­nant’s Val­ley, Rock­gar­den and Tur­tle Run - en­abling the cre­ation of a new net­work of “green” trails to al­low peo­ple of all abil­i­ties to ski to­gether. This is fur­ther en­hanced by the ad­di­tion of a new Dop­pel­mayr Quad chair­lift re­plac­ing the aged Wa­ter­fall T-Bar on the up­per moun­tain at Whaka­papa. As any snow lover will know, Ruapehu is a pop­u­lar place on hol­i­days and week­ends week­ends. Finding a car park can be chal­leng­ing, so RAL has launched a new free shut­tle ser­vice to en­sure ev­ery­one has the op­por­tu­nity to en­joy the snow. Run­ning from Ohakune to Turoa, and Na­tional Park – Whaka­papa, the ser­vice will be free for ev­ery­one with any sea­son or day pass. Ad­di­tion­ally, a bus ser­vice will run from Taupo and Tu­rangi to Whaka­papa on a daily ba­sis for a mod­est fare. It is the ideal op­tion for those who pre­fer to re­lax and en­joy the scenic jour­ney from nearby tourist hotspots to the moun­tain. A big 2017 sea­son high­light is the re-launch of Night Ski­ing on the slopes of Happy Val­ley and Whaka­papa lower moun­tain un­til 9pm on Fri­day and Satur­day nights. Live entertainment, pizza and drink specials along with fire pits for toast­ing marsh­mal­lows will bring first class Après Ski to Whaka­papa in 2017. Mt Ruapehu was tra­di­tion­ally the epi­cen­ter of the New Zealand ski in­dus­try and after years of growth in the South Is­land ski scene, New Zealand’s big­gest ski re­gion is mak­ing a come­back. And for good rea­son. While Whaka­papa is the big­gest, Turoa has the great­est ver­ti­cal de­scent in the coun­try – 722m in fact. If you pre­fer the finer things in life, head to Knoll Ridge Café, New Zealand’s high­est al­ti­tude eatery and bar with a brand new menu for 2017. In 2015 the Knoll Ridge Café won the De­sign Curial Award for world’s best de­signed café beat­ing off 4000 com­peti­tors from across the globe.

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