The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

More Ruapehu ski marketing possible - Tourism NZ

Unlike the South Island fields, Mt Ruapehu doesn't attract large numbers of international skiers.
Unlike the South Island fields, Mt Ruapehu doesn't attract large numbers of international skiers.

State marketing agency Tourism New Zealand could do more to promote Mt Ruapehu's ski areas in international markets, says chief executive Kevin Bowler.

But the North Island ski and tourism industry would need to chip in with funding.

"Certainly we'd be open to doing more work with the North Island if they had some money they wanted to co-invest with us," Bowler said.

Mt Ruapehu's Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas offer world class skiing when conditions are good.

But Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL), which operates the areas, is facing an uncertain future amid a persistent decline in skier numbers and disappointing financial results.

Getting the North Island's biggest mountain on the radar of more international skiers and snowboarders could help address those challenges.

Bowler said New Zealand's ski marketing had often focused on the South Island fields in the past.

"That will be because we've got money that's come out of the regions where those fields are or potentially from the ski industry itself," he said.

"We're pretty agnostic about where people ski - we're keen to see people ski in any part of the country."

However, he said Ruapehu's ski industry faced challenges including limited hotel infrastructure and weekend capacity.

Weather and snow conditions are also less reliable than the South Island.

Kathy Guy, general manager of the Chateau Tongariro and Wairaki Resort, said Queenstown was a tough competitor, especially given it had an international airport.

"There is no way the central North Island is going to compete with Queenstown," Guy said.

"Queenstown is an incredibly wealthy community and has a great deal of funding [for marketing]. You've got international airlines willing to put money up and major hotel chains also driving it - we don't have that."

Still, Guy said the central North island's tourism industry was keen on doing more international marketing.

"It's up to all of us to work together collectively to drive the interest and change the value proposition of skiing in the North Island."

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts chairman Murray Gribben said the Australian market was a big opportunity for the company.

"And it's not just for RAL - the opportunity is for the entire central North Island."

- NZ Herald

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