Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) is to roll out a $100 million infrastructure upgrade programme after securing a 60-year licence for the Whakapapa skifield.

Development plans include a gondola, at a cost of up to $37 million, that will run from the base of Whakapapa to Delta Corner on the upper field. It is part of a strategy to increase visitor numbers over summer and autumn.

The gondola may be open in time for the 2018 ski season.
Whakapapa's Department of Conservation operating licence was renewed in December, allowing the company to press ahead with developments on that side of the mountain.

The licence for Turoa, due to expire at the end of 2022, is yet to be renewed but the company is hopeful that it will be this year.

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Fairfax Media has reported that Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has given notice of her intention to grant RAL a 60-year concession for the Turoa skifield.

A new quad chairlift that will replace Whakapapa's Waterfall T-bar is to be installed this summer, while at Turoa the company has plans for a new express lift and cafe.

"These new lift projects will be supported with investment in increased snowmaking capacity and new chalet buildings on the upper slopes of both ski areas," said a spokesperson for RAL.

A new express quad chairlift opened on Whakapapa's lower field this winter.
Meanwhile, lifetime Mt Ruapehu lift passes are being offered for the first time in a decade.
The life passes cost $3950
and are available until October 10.

The lifetime pass price would buy around 42 days of skiing at the daily adult rate of $95.
A "life pass plus" is also available for purchase. It costs $5150 and can be transferred to another person within 10 years of purchase.