VALLEY EXPRESS CONSTRUCTION DELAYED WHILE CONSENT PROCESS WORKED THROUGH
-RAL still positive about future development plans-
Ruapehu Alpine Lifts’ (RAL), operator of Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Areas on Mt Ruapehu, has announced that construction plans for the Valley Express chairlift proposed for Whakapapa Ski Area will be delayed due to the need for a more lengthy approval and consent process than had originally been expected..
Ngati Tuwharetoa recently made RAL aware that it has concerns regards any further development on Mt Ruapehu that encroaches into the “Gift Area”, which includes terrain on which the Valley Express chairlift was to be constructed.
David Pilkington, Chairman of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd, says this concern from Ngati Tuwharetoa has been expressed relatively early in the process, and RAL has decided the additional time necessary to undertake further consultation with various effected parties, including Ngati Tuwharetoa, means it will now not be possible for construction to proceed prior to the 2008 winter.
“RAL is extremely disappointed that construction will not go ahead as planned during the 2007/2008 summer. In order to complete construction of the Valley Express chairlift in time for the 2008 season we have to have placed an order with the chairlift supplier before the end of the July 2007. Our decision to allow further time for the necessary consultation process does mean we cannot be in a position to place the order,” says Mr Pilkington.
“Objections during the consent process are quite normal and have always been settled amicably between RAL and any affected party. RAL has very strong relationships with local Iwi , but the issues raised by Ngati Tuwharetoa are complex and it will take some time to attempt to resolve these, to then lodge the formal approval and consent applications and then for the relevant authorities to hold hearings prior to making their decisions,” says Mr Pilkington.
Ruapehu Alpine Lifts General Manager, Dave Mazey says that Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is committed to offering visitors a quality on-mountain experience through providing world-class facilities and terrain. “Despite this delay in construction, ongoing development of the on-mountain facilities at Mt Ruapehu is still our priority,” says Mr Mazey.
“We have achieved a great deal at Mt Ruapehu in the last few years. At Turoa we have redeveloped the car parking areas, tripled the size of the snowmaking system, overhauled the retail and café complex, and of course constructed the new High Noon Express, six-seater highspeed chairlift. We also invested heavily in Whakapapa’s snowmaking system, and improved access roads to the ski area to reduce congestion.”