The Government will provide Ruapehu Alpine Lifts with a $10 million loan for the construction of a high-speed gondola on the Whakapapa ski field.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones made the announcement this morning, saying the development would provide a significant boost for tourism across the central North Island.

The gondola will replace the National Chairlift and has capacity to transport up to 2,400 passengers per hour to Knoll Ridge Café in 10-person cabins.

Jones said building and operating the gondola would generate 150 direct jobs and had the potential for an additional 400 through associated activities.


"The project is estimated to attract 500,000 additional visitor days by 2025, and significantly increase the number of non-skiers visiting and using the mountain's facilities," Jones said.

"As part of a suite of other projects, this could be transformative for the central North Island and the Ruapehu district in particular. The new gondola will enhance the upper mountain at Whakapapa and allow it to become a year-round destination, providing greater certainty for employers and stable employment for local workers."

The total cost of the project is $25 million, with other funding coming from local Government and investors.

Jones said the project would boost visitor numbers to the Ruapehu and Taupo districts and was expected to have significant economic and social impacts.

"The project has been identified through the Manawatū-Whanganui Accelerate 25 plan and the Ruapehu Regional Visitor Development Plan as key to boosting the local economy. It is easy to see why – the economic potential is significant and Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is committed to recruiting locally," he said.

"The gondola has the potential to be the linchpin investment creating the 'must do' attraction around which other investments would work."

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts operates the Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields at Mt Ruapehu and is a public benefit entity formed in 1953.