In 2022, a terrible winter led Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL), which runs the Whakapapa and Tūroa ski resorts, also known as Mt. Ruapehu, to file for voluntary administration after owing $45 million. After the New Zealand government pitched in with $8 million of assistance, the search has been underway for new operators.
Newshub reports that New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) will go to the Cabinet to recommend two new operators to run the ski resorts. This means that there are still steps that need to take place before these new owners become official.
For Turoa, the successful investor will likely be Pure Tūroa, which is being led by developers Cam Robertson and Greg Hickman.
For Whakapapa, the successful bidder will probably be a private equity firm with ties to New Zealand businessman Tom Elworthy and Dave Mazey, who was the former leader of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts.
The failed bids came from Tūroa Alpine Ltd, who wanted to only operate the aforementioned field, and Ruapehu Skifields Stakeholders Association, who wanted to run both of them. Since these plans are not yet official, their plans for the mountain have not yet been made public.
Viewpoints on the new owners are mixed. There are still concerns for operations this winter, as the season pass sales and credit meetings are currently on hold, so some passholders are frustrated with the lack of transparency.
Sam Clarkson, who is the representative for Ruapehu Skifields Stakeholders Association, which is an association of 14,000 season passholders, described the process to Newshub:
“What seems to have happened is that one of the creditors, MBIE, has taken over the process and running it on their own agenda and speaking to only who they want to speak to…It smacks of lack of transparency. There have been four proposals for the future of the ski areas and the public deserve to know what those proposals are. [The process was] frustrating and opaque.”
In terms of a positive outlook, here’s what Ben Wiggins, who is the owner of TCB Ski, Board and Bike, had to say about the situation:
“The upside to this having it split is they will open up healthy competition which will mean they will both be pushing for earlier opening dates and later closing dates.
The chairs are even on at Turoa, the boys are doing line testing up at Whakapapa, everything is ready to turn and get going. With this snow, it’s getting people excited. The main thing that will take sorting out is the guys in the back room signing the paperwork to decide who is the boss.”
The video report from Newshub is below.