17 Dec 2016

Ruapehu skifields to bring in more snowmakers

11:28 am on 17 December 2016

A multimillion-dollar upgrade to the ski fields on Ruapehu this summer has their operators hoping to start the next season much earlier.

Mt Ruapehu

Turoa ski field on Mr Ruapehu, in the central North Island Photo: RNZ / Alison Ballance

This year the mountain missed out on up to 40,000 visitors, and millions in revenue, because of a lengthy warm season that delayed its opening by a month.

As well as ski-lift improvements, the $11 million upgrade this summer will add 24 new snow-making guns at the Whakapapa skifield, and seven at Turoa.

An all-weather snowmaking system will also be added to Happy Valley.

Operating company Ruapehu Alpine Lifts chief executive Ross Copland said the aim was to get rid of risks posed by warmer temperatures.

"With the all-weather snow-making we're bringing the start date of the season forward by a whole month,

so instead of opening in July we're committed to opening for Queen's Birthday weekend for the third of June next year.

Mr Copland said Ruapehu could be among the first skifield openings in the Southern Hemisphere.

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