Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is introducing a car park booking system on Mt Ruapehu this ski season but some avid skiers are not in its favour with one saying it's turning skiing "into a lottery".
The system will be available from July 22 online at mtruapehu.com and guests can only book at 10am and 6pm on Wednesdays, with 50 per cent of capacity released each time.
The system will operate for the 10 busiest weekends between July 25 and September 27 between 7am and 10am.
After 10am car parks at full capacity will operate on a one-in, one-out basis for sightseers, snow play guests or other skiers and riders.
RAL's new system has the support of the Ruapehu District Council to manage ongoing traffic congestion issues.
RAL chief executive Jono Dean said it had listened to the frustrations about queuing for parking and general volumes of visitors to the ski areas and had come up with what it believed was a good solution to ensure fair and equitable parking.
He said since the initial announcement of the system they had received a lot of feedback from mountain users and this had resulted in a few changes.
They made the change to how often the system will be used and they decided to delay the launch date to figure out how to efficiently deal with people who do not show up to use their parks.
"They will be sent an alert to say they are late and if they don't arrive as per their updated ETA the car park will be released back into the availability pool," Dean said.
He hopes the booking system will encourage visitors to plan their trip in advance.
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"While weekends will always be busy, skiers need to consider going up the mountain mid-week to avoid crowds and queues. The new booking system will show live availability so people can easily see when is the best time to visit."
But Zane Torkington, who has been travelling to the mountain for around 15 years, says the new parking system adds another layer of unnecessary complexity to travel planning which can already by complex with changing weather conditions.
"Adding parking via an app when it's really only needed three or four days of the year just seems like a future money grab to me and more importantly for clients out of town, another thing to organise."
He said if people needed to plan well in advance they might end up heading to the South Island instead where the weather is more settled.
Craig Stevenson and his family from Auckland said life and season pass holders felt aggrieved as the system had been dumped on them just prior to the start of the season.
Only platinum pass holders whose pass already includes parking benefits get priority on car parking.
After having skied on the mountain for more than 40 years, Stevenson said he has never had a problem getting a car park.
"First come, first served has always been and always will be the fairest system. The bookable parking system has turned skiing on Mt Ruapehu into a lottery. Those with fast internet access at 10am and 6pm on a Wednesday are now likely to grab a car park for the coming weekend. If we miss out on a park we and many others will simply stay away."
He said despite the change to only make this for the 10 busiest weekends the reality is the ski season is short and this represents most of the ski season.
"RAL no longer provide a shuttle service up the mountain so if you miss out on a car park paying a private shuttle operator is the only way to get there. For most families, this added cost makes skiing, which is already an expensive sport, unaffordable."
But Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron urged anyone with doubts to understand the serious issues of road safety, the environment, guardianship and host responsibilities they were trying to resolve.
With the mountain being part of the World Heritage Tongariro National Park he said: "This has ultimately stretched facilities, core infrastructure and systems with an increasing impact on cultural values, the environment and the overall visitor experience".