Record num­bers for Whaka­papa

Taupo Times - - FRONT PAGE -

STEPH RANGI Mt Ruapehu’s 2018 open­ing week­end smashed last year’s vis­i­tor record with over 3000 vis­i­tors.

The early start to the ski sea­son is prov­ing pop­u­lar with skiers and snow­board­ers. Lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are also ben­e­fit­ing from the early in­flux of vis­i­tors to the re­gion.

Whaka­papa wel­comed 3685 vis­i­tors over Queen’s Birth­day open­ing week­end, smash­ing last year’s open­ing week­end record of 2700 vis­i­tors.

‘‘The growth val­i­dates the $23mil­lion in­vest­ment in new fa­cil­i­ties at Whaka­papa in the past two years - in­clud­ing a snow fac­tory and new lifts,’’ Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) chief ex­ec­u­tive Ross Co­p­land said.

‘‘Lo­cal busi­nesses have also re­ported extremely strong num­bers with Chateau Ton­gariro say­ing that they were full of ski­ing fam­i­lies from New Zealand and Aus­tralia over the long week­end.’’

Jo­erg and Sil­via from Hanover, Ger­many, trav­elled to Na­tional Park for the first three days of the New Zealand ski sea­son at Whaka­papa Sk­i­field.

Jo­erg said he was look­ing for­ward to learn­ing to snow­board.

‘‘I’m al­ready a pretty de­cent skier, be­cause we’ve al­ways gone ski­ing in the moun­tains in Ger­many,’’ he said.

Na­tional Park was the pair’s first stop in New Zealand, as part of a three-week trip.

Tra­di­tion­ally June has been one of the qui­etest months of the year for the Ruapehu re­gion due to the ski ar­eas not open­ing un­til early July.

‘‘With snow­mak­ing ca­pac­ity now match­ing our coun­ter­parts in [the] South Is­land, and a June open­ing, we can guar­an­tee the long­est snow sea­son in New Zealand,’’ Co­p­land said.

‘‘Rather than be­ing the last to open, Whaka­papa is now the first com­mer­cial ski area to open and that’s a big deal not only for us, but for the wider Taupo¯Ruapehu vis­i­tor econ­omy.’’

And the out­look for more snow is look­ing good, with more fore­cast this week.

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